As a result, the report — which its authors said had “informed policymaking in the UK and other countries in the last weeks” — said: “We therefore conclude that epidemic suppression is the only viable strategy at the current time.”
A suppression strategy, along the lines of the approach adopted by the Chinese authorities, “aims to reverse epidemic growth, reducing case numbers to low levels and maintaining that situation indefinitely”.
It requires “a combination of social distancing of the entire population, home isolation of cases and household quarantine of their family members”, and “may need to be supplemented by school and university closures”.
An “intensive intervention package” will have to be “maintained until a vaccine becomes available (potentially 18 months or more)”, the report said, painting an extraordinary picture of what life could be like in the UK for the next year and a half.
On Monday afternoon, the prime minister drastically tightened the measures imposed on the British public — signalling the UK’s move to a suppression strategy.
Everyone in the UK should now stop “non-essential contact” with other people and avoid pubs, clubs, cinemas, and theatres to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Johnson announced.
Families have also been urged to stay at home together for 14 days if any member is showing symptoms of the virus — a new, continuous cough or a fever.
Johnson said that anyone in isolation should avoid leaving the house “even to buy food or essentials” and should exercise outside the house only at a safe distance from others.
A government spokesperson said: “This is a very fast-moving situation. In order to give the most robust scientific advice SAGE [the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies] draws upon and considers a range of evidence and views to reach its recommendations. Part of this evidence includes the latest modelling data from a number of experts. All SAGE recommendations are in line with the best current evidence. We will be publishing further evidence shortly.”