The Health Secretary reported on the work that is under way to calculate the impact of the lockdown that is putting millions of jobs and businesses at risk. He also acknowledged that the strain of will need to be measured against the toll of the victims of the coronavirus.
During Friday’s Downing Street briefing, Mr Hancock stressed to the nation it is still “too early” in the pandemic to judge what compensations will need to be made.
The Daily Mail claims the Cabinet is divided over whether the lockdown itself could cause more damaging results than the actual virus.
This comes as Ireland confirmed today that it will extend its lockdown to May 5.
Ministers are coming under increasing pressure to outline the ‘exit strategy’ that will see the UK leave the current lockdown.
Experts told the Mail that mass testing is the only safe route for easing lockdown restrictions because otherwise it is not clear what proportion of the public has been infected.
Journalists at the briefing expressed their concerns that the lockdown will be longer than expected causing the economy to suffer more.
The Health Secretary explained how the government has to look at a variety of ways the virus and the government’s response may cause deaths.
Mr Hancock said: “We do not yet have an established estimate of the impact of the huge problems in the economy on to the health of the nation.
“But it is a piece of work that I am working on jointly with the Chancellor to make sure that when we make the big policy decisions, especially around social distancing, we take into account the impact on the health and wellbeing of everyone in the country.
“Not just on the highly visible impact on the deaths from coronavirus but right across the board including indirectly from the economic impact of the crisis.”
He added: “It is something that will be at the heart of our judgement as we make the decisions in the future.
“But what’s clear is that right now it is too early to make those judgements.”
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The Health Secretary explained that there are four main mortality impacts of the pandemic, the first being the deaths caused directly from the coronavirus.
The second impact that the government is trying to address are deaths caused because the NHS being overrun.
Mr Hancock stated because of the introduction of the Nightingale hospitals there is increased capacity and “every single person with coronavirus has been able to access the best possible care in the NHS”.
The next impact is caused by delaying NHS activity due to the coronavirus, including some cancer treatments.
Mr Hancock recognised the final mortality impact will be linked to the economic impact.
He said: “What’s clear is that right now it is too early to make those judgements.
“The most important position of this weekend is to stay at home because that is what saves lives.”
Mr Hancock added a study suggesting 150,000 excess deaths due to these secondary mortality impacts is not correct.
The Health Secretary began Friday’s briefing by urging the public to stay at home over the Easter weekend.
This week also saw Downing Street warn police officers against “heavy-handed” lockdown approaches as some officers were reportedly roaming supermarkets to catch shoppers buying non-essential items.
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