British lawmakers slam govt’s ‘critical errors’ in pandemic

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London – The British government made “critical errors” during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report released on Wednesday, as a major Scottish city reimposed some anti-virus lockdown measures.

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In its report regarding the British government’s handling of the crisis, the Commons Home Affairs Committee listed a string of failings and made recommendations.

The government was “slow to recognise the increased risk of the disease spreading from other European countries,” especially from Spain, lawmakers said.

The committee criticised the government’s decision to lift self-isolation guidance for specific countries in March for a period of three months at a time when other countries were introducing stronger border measures.

“With stronger early measures it is likely that the spread of infection would have been slowed”, the committee said.

The committee also criticised the lack of transparency over border decisions, particularly with reference to the sudden reintroduction of self-isolation rules for travellers from Spain on July 25.

“There should be significant changes to the way such decisions are handled and communicated in the future,” the legislators wrote.

Regarding enforcement, the lawmakers said they were “unconvinced” by the Home Office estimate that 99.9 per cent of people were complying with quarantine rules, demanding more evidence.

The committee recommended investigating the viability of widespread targeted testing at the British border to further contain the virus.

Meanwhile, authorities in Scotland said lockdown restrictions were to be reimposed as of Wednesday in Aberdeen due to a coronavirus cluster in the city.

Nicola Sturgeon, the leader of the devolved government in Scotland, said pubs and restaurants in Aberdeen were to close at 5 pm (1600 GMT), and people were advised not to travel to the city.

Sturgeon said there were 54 cases in the “significant outbreak” and that community transmission could not be ruled out.

People in the north-eastern Scottish city were from Wednesday only allowed to move a maximum of 8 kilometres around their place of residence in their free time, and avoid visiting each other’s homes.

Police Scotland Deputy Chief Constable Will Kerr said there would be “additional patrols in Aberdeen.”

The measures in Aberdeen would be evaluated in a week’s time, Sturgeon said, adding the restrictions could be extended.

“Our precautionary and careful judgement is that we need to take decisive action now, difficult as that undoubtedly is, in order to try to contain this outbreak and prevent further harm later on,” she told a news conference.


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