Ex-Cabinet minister Rory Stewart suggests schools and public transport networks should be SHUT DOWN early in coronavirus outbreak saying government must learn lessons from China and the Ebola outbreak
Ministers should close schools and public transport networks sooner rather than later if they are to slow the spread of coronavirus, London mayor candidate Rory Stewart has suggested.
The former Tory Cabinet minister said the government needed to resist the 'huge temptation' to put off taking 'very costly' action.
He said the 'short-term economic damage' which would be caused by such measures would be 'definitely worth doing if you can stave off the bigger spread' of the virus in the UK.
Mr Stewart argued the spread of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo - which he saw when he was in the Cabinet as international development secretary - showed 'you have to act early' as he also praised China's approach to coronavirus.
His comments came as Boris Johnson today held an emergency Cobra committee meeting to discuss the UK's response to the spread of the deadly disease.
Confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK have now hit 278, with more than 23,500 people tested.
Mr Stewart told BBC Radio 4's Westminster Hour programme: 'The problem around these tables if you’re sitting at a Cobra meeting is the expert advice is never quite definitive, people are learning all the time.
'And therefore there is always a huge temptation to delay action particularly when you understand that action is going to be very costly.
'So a question such as "what is the point you shut schools" or ultimately what is the point at which you shut a public transport system, there will be so many voices around the table who are going to be pushing to say let’s just give it another day or two.
'My experience watching people deal with Ebola in the eastern Democratic Congo and indeed with other situations is you have to act early... I think there’s something very interesting about what’s going on in China.
'If you look at the projections being made worldwide for mortality rates it doesn’t at the moment look as though China is going to hit those kind of rates and my sense is aggressive containment and taking short-term economic damage is definitely worth doing if you can stave off the bigger spread.'