Weather bulletins should feature COVID infection rates to curb pandemic, some experts say

Experts and a cross-party group of MPs are backing a plan to have daily coronavirus figures read out with weather reports as part of a scheme to help curb the spread of the pandemic.

The COVID-Secure UK plan has been assembled by campaign group March For Change, based on the work by the All-Party Group on Coronavirus.

The aim of the plan is to reduce the R (reproduction) rate to below 1, and there is a set of nine steps to do so.

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These steps include asking news outlets to include daily coronavirus figures alongside pollen counts and UV ray checks.

Other measures include “urgently developing a locally led & coordinated, but nationally supported Find, Test, Trace, Isolate and Support programme in England”.

And also mandatory testing for those who arrive from abroad, including follow-up tests and also enforceable quarantine.

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Among the backers of the scheme is Professor Martin McKee, a public health expert at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a member of Independent SAGE.

He said: “The UK government’s approach is based on a false choice or ‘balance’ between saving lives and protecting jobs and the economy.

“This has given us the worst of all worlds, with some of the highest death rates and greatest decline in GDP anywhere.

“We are doing too little to break the chain of disease transmission while hitting people’s jobs and incomes.”

Dr Kit Yates, a mathematical biologist at the University of Bath, and Professor Karl Friston, a neuroscientist at University College London, also support the plan.

Backers in parliament include Liberal Democrats Layla Moran and Munira Wilson, Conservative Dr Dan Poulter, Labour’s Clive Lewis, the SNP’s Dr Philippa Whitford, and the Green party’s Caroline Lucas, according to information listed on the group’s website.

Ministers say they need to strike the right balance between protecting lives and livelihoods.

They have argued the R rate – the average number of people someone with COVID-19 passes it on to – should be below one for national restrictions to ease.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has divided areas in England into three tiers, in a bid to ensure restrictions are more targeted at hotspots and not unfairly imposed on areas with lower infection rates.

And Chancellor Rishi Sunak recently added more financial support for businesses and firms hit by the measures.

But Downing Street has been urged by dozens of Tory MPs to lay out an exit strategy for regions to have their tier and restrictions lowered.

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