Interview: People should not assume coronavirus will behave like other viruses: UK expert

Source: Xinhua| 2020-09-20 21:45:56|Editor: huaxia

LONDON, Sept. 20 (Xinhua) -- Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Britain, experts have raised concerns over how the coronavirus will impact life for people in winter.

According to Professor Andrew Easton at the University of Warwick, it is still unknown how exactly the coronavirus will behave, and what that may look like for Britain.

One thing he said is known, however, is that other common winter viruses around colds and flus will be confused with the coronavirus.

"That will make assessment difficult. If somebody presents with a flu, you wouldn't normally tell them to go and isolate for 14 days. There's going to be an increase in a number of people with these other respiratory diseases. It will make assessing COVID-19 difficult," he said in a recent interview with Xinhua.

Due to a recent rise in confirmed coronavirus cases, the British government has strengthened infection prevention by implementing a number of restrictive measures in some areas.

On Monday, the "rule of six" replaced the previous guidance on social gathering in England. The move came at a time when countries like Britain, China, Russia and the United States are racing against time to develop coronavirus vaccines.


Asking people to change their behaviour is "the hardest thing to do," he said.

"My concern here is understanding fully exactly why those numbers -- the 'rule of six' -- have been chosen and the way that has been done because it's slightly different in different parts of the country. So it is a worry that it may not be adequate," said Easton.

The rise in coronavirus cases has concerned Easton, but with a relaxation in restrictions and people allowed once again to interact, it comes as no surprise to him.

"Now we're in what would be, for someone who studies transmission of virus, a very obvious situation where, when you then release the population and allow them to start to intermingle -- that's ideal for a virus," he said.

"We're seeing this upswing, and when that happens, you hope to contain it in localized communities -- that's been attempted," he also said.


But Easton noted that it will take time to bring down the rising cases again.

"I'm afraid I can't see this upswing coming to an end rapidly. It's going to take a bit of time before this is brought back down again and the only way it's going to be brought down is by having effective controls," he said.

The concept of "a second wave of infection" is problematic because Britain hasn't ever got the level of infection down to a low level and "it's always been there," Easton said.

"This principle of a second wave has come because people are making assumptions," Easton said, adding that people are too focused on using data from the 1918 flu pandemic and other virus infections to predict the trajectory of the COVID-19.

"In the case of the 1918 pandemic, the incidence of disease declined very rapidly and went very low. And then there really was a genuine second wave. The situation we're in now is slightly different," he noted. Enditem