March 17, 2020 / 2:38 PM / 19 days ago

UK aiming for under 20,000 deaths from virus: government chief scientist

FILE PHOTO: A woman walks on Westminster bridge in Westminster as she wears a protective face mask while the number of coronavirus cases grow around the world. London, Britain, March 17, 2020. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain hopes the measures it has taken to tackle coronavirus mean it will have below 20,000 deaths from the outbreak, the governent’s chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance said on Tuesday.

On Monday, the government ramped up its battle against the virus, shutting down social life in Britain and ordering the most vulnerable to isolate for 12 weeks.

Vallance said the impact of the measures on the number of infections should be seen in two to three weeks. Based on the modelling being used by the government, it is a “reasonable ballpark” that Britain actually has around 55,000 cases of the virus, compared to the 1,543 confirmed by testing, he said.

He told a committee of lawmakers when asked about deaths: “If we can get this down to 20,000 and below, that is a good outcome in terms of where we would hope to get to with this outbreak. It is still horrible, it is still an enormous number of deaths and it is an enormous pressure on the health service.”

Reporting by Kylie MacLellan and Elizabeth Piper; editing by Stephen Addison

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