By Alex Trelinski • 20 April 2020 • 11:46
FORMER Prime Minister Tony Blair has said that he wants mass testing across the UK as a key part of any coronavirus lockdown exit strategy.
Blair, who was Britain’s leader for a decade, added that the current government under Boris Johnson was slow in the early days of the coronavirus breakout.
He added that “hindsight was a good thing for everybody to have,” and that he had produced a series of “constructive suggestions” over an exit strategy for Mr Johnson.
In a round of interviews, Blair admitted that the outbreak was the the “most complicated and difficult challenge I have ever seen in politics.”
He suggested that specialist Czars should be brought in as experts from the across the UK to fight the pandemic and help on getting the country out of lockdown like reopening schools.
“My suggestion is that you have a senior figure in charge of each of these areas with a team around them,” Blair told the BBC.
The ex-premier said: “There are two basic phases to tackling the Covid-19 crisis: suppression of the disease; and managed revival of the economy.”
“The ‘normal’ that we return to will be a new normal.
“The suppression is absolutely necessary to save lives and there will continue for some time to be a raft of rules and restrictions necessary to follow.”
“But because of the immense collateral damage done by the lockdown – economic and health related – we must ensure that on easing the restrictions, we are fully prepared and ahead of the curve the moment that the medical and scientific advice allows us to start the process.
“In the suppression phase we can see with hindsight, that we were slow compared with the best of other countries.
“In this next phase, we must position government to roll out the revival of the economy and as much of normal life as is possible, with efficiency and clarity of strategy.”
He called for mass testing “including the development of the community force” to help with the process.
The ex-PM also said that regarding personal protection equipment (PPE) that “mask acquisition and production on a vast scale” was “essential” for the safety of frontline staff.
On the development of a vaccine, Blair called for “utilisation of every means nationally and globally to identify those treatments which can reduce the severity of the disease.”
Once new cases fall substantially, the UK could consider easing restrictions by opening schools first.
The Blair Foundation also suggested lockdown easing for different ages, with younger people at much lower risk being allowed to return to work sooner.
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