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Letters / UK’s approach to coronavirus concerning

Shetland, Scotland and the UK are out of sync with almost everywhere else in the world in how we are trying to tackle this coronavirus outbreak.

Our current approach is at odds with what is being recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO). It is concerning how little this is being challenged and disturbing how few people seem to be aware of UK exceptionalism on this matter.

We are not “following the science”, as ‘experts’ and politicians of various colours frequently suggest. The scientific community is divided over this issue and we are following a particular reading of the science.

WHO has consistently advised all countries to test, track and trace every suspected case of the virus. The overwhelming majority of national governments are taking this approach.

The UK Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) is the body advising our politicians. As far as I understand, SAGE does not believe we can contain the virus using the WHO’s methodology.

Our government is, therefore, not making the same effort as others to stop the virus spreading, while attempting to control it in a manner that doesn’t put excessive pressure on the NHS at any particular point during the outbreak.

The reason we are testing four times less than Germany is more to do with a difference in approach, rather than an issue of capacity.

I am not a scientific authority so my opinion is worth little on this matter. However, the fact the UK is taking a different approach is concerning, given the WHO’s history in dealing with virus outbreaks such as this.

What I find alarming is the lack of discussion, and seeming lack of knowledge, about the path we are on.

We must come together to overcome this problem but people will only buy into a collective effort if they have at least a basic understanding of what we are trying to do and why. ‘We know best – trust us’ will not do.

Scrutiny, questions and critique are vital when there is still much to learn, time is of the essence and so much is at stake. Much of what we usually do has become irrelevant in these extraordinary times.

Conversely, this situation demands us to be well informed about certain things most of us would normally have little interest in.

A widespread understanding of how our government is trying to tackle this coronavirus is crucial to overcoming it and everybody has a responsibility to learn as much as they can about the action that is being taken in their name.

Kennedy Stewart
Lerwick