A Fife university professor has said the “UK must learn from other countries” as it gets ready to ease the coronavirus lockdown.
Professor Hill Kulu from St Andrews University also estimates Dundee has a higher Covid-19 infection rate than Scottish average but continued social distancing can suppress the virus in the absence of a vaccine.
Professor Kulu, who works in the ESRC Centre for Population Change and School of Geography and Sustainable Development, published new UK-wide research this week which suggests herd immunity may be a long time off.
Speaking to the Tele, Professor Kulu said: “Around 5% to 6% of the total population may have been infected, which is around 3.4 million people.
“There is a clear urban and rural pattern of infection right across the UK, with infection levels in London over 10%, which is not surprising.
“In Tayside, I think Dundee has a higher infection rate and is above average in Scotland because it is a city.
“We know that the virus has hit hardest people from lower socioeconomic and ethnic minority backgrounds in the cities, potentially due to the nature of their employment – many of them are in occupations exposed to the virus, such as transport and sales workers.”
Professor Kulu also said the lockdown in the UK has been successful in stopping the virus overwhelming the population, and said everyone needs to stick to the rules as lockdown is relaxed in the coming weeks.
He continued: “The lockdown has been successful in stopping the virus spreading.
“It is important we return to normality in easing the lockdown, but we also need to make sure processes such as social distancing and shielding elderly populations are still treated as critical.
“We also need to learn from other countries such as Germany, Austria and Denmark who have gone through something similar, but I want to emphasise that we must make sure we follow these rules to stop the spread of the virus until a cure or a vaccine becomes available.
“Clearly we are far from achieving the ‘herd immunity’ rapidly as some have hoped.
“The good news is that because the coronavirus is not widely spread, and the number of active cases has declined during the lockdown, its suppression and control is possible with various public health measures before the cure and vaccine become available.”
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