A majority of British people agree that the government’s social-distancing measures to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus were taken “too late,” according to an opinion poll published on Thursday.
Fifty-six per cent of more than 1,000 respondents said the measures came too late, while 35 per cent said they were taken at the right time, pollsters Ipsos MORI said.
However, 79 per cent said they had avoided leaving their homes since Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered a near-lockdown on March 23, up from 50 per cent of respondents during an earlier week of non-compulsory social-distancing measures.
“While the majority of people feel [the lockdown] came too late, the impact it has had on people’s behaviour is critical at a time when we all need to be doing our part,” said Kelly Beaver, head of public affairs for Ipsos MORI.
Britain’s coronavirus-linked deaths jumped again with a new daily record of 569 deaths reported on Thursday, taking the country’s total deaths to almost 3,000.
The Health Ministry said the total number of confirmed infections rose to nearly 34,000 from 163,000 people tested, but government experts estimated that many hundreds of thousands of people were infected.
Many health experts have criticised Johnson’s slow response to the crisis, noting his initial complacency, the low level of testing for the virus, and the poor provision of intensive care beds, ventilators and protective equipment for medical staff.
They warned that Britain could face one of the world’s highest death rates from Covid-19 in the next few weeks.
The Financial Times on Wednesday said Johnson faced “mounting criticism over the government’s failure to put in a place an adequate testing regime to manage the crisis.”
The newspaper said testing was “used aggressively in countries like South Korea and Singapore to stem the spread of coronavirus, and is also vital in establishing whether health workers have been infected and are able to work.”
It noted that Britain was still testing less than 10,000 people per day, while only a few thousand of the estimated 1.2 million National Health Service staff had been tested.
It said former health secretary Jeremy Hunt had advocated “mass community testing… as an exit strategy from Britain’s economically catastrophic lockdown.”
“But is it too late?” the FT asked.