We are at a tipping point in our response to this deadly virus. Like many countries across Europe, we are seeing an alarming rise in cases and hospitalisations.
We now know, from contact tracing, that the majority of infections come from socialising and meeting in peoples’ own homes.
Around 1,000 people, on average, were testing positive every day in the UK just a month ago. Now that figure has gone up fourfold. Meanwhile, daily hospital admissions in England are nearly doubling every eight days.
Our strategy is straightforward. We must act to suppress this virus – while protecting our economy and education – until a vaccine, or mass testing, is ready.
I reject the idea that protecting lives and protecting livelihoods are mutually exclusive – they are, in fact, two sides of the same coin. We cannot return to normal life, which I know we are all yearning for, while this virus remains on our shores and is spreading so rapidly, because we know that more cases lead to more people in hospital and more people in hospital leads to more deaths.
The nature of exponential growth is that, once the virus is spreading, its growth accelerates. So the best thing we can do, for our schools, our economy and all the cherished experiences that we want to restore, is to drive the rate of infection down and keep it down.
At the same time, we are putting in place all the resources necessary to build the mass testing, and develop the vaccine, that will allow us to defeat this invisible killer once and for all. Until then, we need to learn from what has worked, both here and overseas, to slow the spread with the minimum possible disruption.
Nobody wants to impinge on people’s precious liberties – who they can see, where they can go and how they can spend their free time. But it is imperative that we act now. I say this with freedom at the front of my mind because the quicker we can get this virus under control, the quicker we can restore the freedoms we all enjoy.
As the Prime Minister (watch him addressing the country about new restrictions in the video below) likes to say, a stitch in time saves nine.