‘It's painful but it's worth it' - editor of The Lancet says lockdown shouldn't be lifted until June 1

NHS information signs on covid-19 are displayed outside a pharmacy in Portobello Road, west London, as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. Picture date: Sunday April 26, 2020.
Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet, said lockdown should continue until at least June 1. (Picture: PA)

The editor of the medical journal The Lancet has urged the government not to end lockdown too early, saying it should continue until June 1.

Richard Horton, who has been outspoken in his criticism of the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, said while an extra few weeks of lockdown would be “painful” they would be worth it.

Horton’s comments on the BBC’s Political Thinking with Nick Robinson, in which he was questioned about his stance on the handling of the virus in the UK, come just days before Boris Johnson is expected to set out a roadmap for the easing of lockdown restrictions.

Asked about his thoughts on the lifting of the lockdown, Horton said: “Absolutely don’t do it too fast.

“In Wuhan they locked down for 10 weeks and a lot of the epidemiological modelling shows that you need to lock down for around about 10 weeks. That takes us to June 1, we locked down on March 23/24.

“I really worry that if we come out of this too quickly — maybe two or three weeks too quickly — we could see a flare up of a second wave. So I would say, keep it in place until the end of May to the beginning of June.

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“The danger — both the economic danger and the toll in deaths danger — is so great that those extra couple of weeks are worth it.

“I know it’s painful but it’s worth it.”

During the interview Horton, who has been criticised by some for his views, said there should be a public inquiry into the government’s handling of the crisis.

He blamed mistakes that he said had been made on a ‘system failure’, saying: “we had the wrong perspective and we had the wrong people round the table”.

He also criticised “arrogant British exceptionalism” and said if scientists had “picked up the phone and talked to their counterparts” in China, they would have had a better idea of what to expect.

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