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Tougher rules won’t work in 'war on coronavirus', WHO expert warns

Ross McGuinness
·3-min read
Prime Minister Boris Johnson looks at a piece of wood in a vice during a visit to Exeter College. The visit comes ahead of a speech in which he is expected to announce guaranteed opportunities for life-long learning to help create a jobs recovery after the pandemic.
Prime minister Boris Johnson during a visit to Exeter College on Tuesday as he faces a revolt among Tory MPs over coronavirus restrictions. (PA)

Strict lockdown measures will not work in the “war on coronavirus”, a medical expert at the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned.

WHO special envoy Dr David Nabarro advised against imposing stringent rules to control people in an effort to halt the spread of COVID-19.

His comments follow a backlash from scientists against the government’s 10pm curfew for pubs, bars and restaurants, which has been criticised as doing “more harm than good”.

Footage from the weekend showed revellers flooding city centre streets and queueing up outside off-licences across England after being ejected from pubs at 10pm.

In the North East, local leaders say the government has spread “confusion and chaos” with its various lockdown rules.

Watch: How much can people in England get fined for not self-isolating?

From the beginning of this week, people in England face fines of up to £10,000 for not self-isolating, while police have new powers to carry out spot checks on those suspected of breaking the laws.

The government is under pressure from rebel Conservatives to give MPs a say over imposing lockdown measures, as prime minister Boris Johnson faces a revolt from within his own party.

So far, 55 Tory MPs have indicated they will back an amendment to be tabled in the House of Commons by Conservative Sir Graham Brady on Wednesday, according to the ConservativeHome blog.

The amendment calls for more parliamentary scrutiny of major national coronavirus regulations.

The Coronavirus Act passed in March gave the government special powers to deal with the pandemic, but can only be extended with MPs’ approval – its extension will be put to the House of Commons on Wednesday.

Sir Graham’s amendment would give parliament a say over national restrictions before they are enforced.

Last week, he warned the government could face “backbench resistance” if it tried to push through a second nationwide lockdown without parliamentary scrutiny.

Sir Graham Brady, Chairman of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers leaves 10 Downing Street, London.
Conservative MP Sir Graham Brady plans to table an amendment this week calling for greater parliamentary scrutiny of coronavirus restrictions. (PA)

Dr Nabarro indicated that strict rules will not be successful if the public do not support them.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Tuesday: “This war, and I think it’s reasonable to call it a war, against this virus, which is going to go on for the foreseeable future, is not going to be won by creating tougher and tougher rules that attempt to control people’s behaviour.

“The only way that we will come out ahead of this virus is if we’re all able to do the right thing in the right place at the right time because we choose to do it.

“I think we will get the point, I just hope that it doesn’t require a lot more people to end up in hospital and dying for us all to get the point, that all of us, all of us, have to be rigorous about physical distance, wearing masks, hygiene, isolating when we’re sick and protecting those who are most vulnerable.”

Watch: Why are deaths still low if UK coronavirus cases are rising?

Coronavirus: what happened today
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