This is from a website called The Conversation – you can read the full article here.
1. Lockdown was too late
The UK acted too slowly in imposing its lockdown on March 23, which allowed the initial infection to quickly spread out of control. This was the case with infections within the UK and those coming from abroad.
The first case of COVID-19 in the UK was on January 31 – that is almost two months before the imposition of the lockdown on March 23. Other countries, such as China and Italy, were much quicker to impose their full lockdowns
2. Infections are still out of control
Because the UK let the virus get out of control to begin with, it is taking longer than hoped to come down the other side of the epidemic curve – infections are still in the thousands each week.
The R number varies across the country, and it could be higher than one in some areas. Since deaths lag behind infections by two to three weeks, and R is not consistent, the numbers are not coming down as quickly as hoped.
3. Not all deaths were counted from the start
In the initial stages of the epidemic, the UK did not account for infections and deaths in settings other than hospitals, crucially leaving out those that took place in care homes.
Understanding the roles of hotspots, like care homes, and super spreaders – people who are responsible for infecting an especially large number of others – is crucial at the onset of an epidemic. The UK government should have been taking this into account from the end of January, not from April, when care home deaths began to be added to tallies.
4. Missing symptoms
The UK has been been much slower than other countries in telling people what COVID-19 symptoms to look out for, with a heavy focus on cough and fever.
A loss of taste and smell was added to the UK’s official list of symptoms on May 18, more than a month later than in France and almost a month after a study suggested these as clinical symptoms of infection.
Hence, in the initial stages of the COVID-19 spread, many people could have been unknowingly infected and be infectious and thus carried on with their normal activities, unwillingly passing on the virus and keeping R high.
5. Failure to test, trace and isolate
Another reason the UK is experiencing large number of COVID-19 deaths is that the country was late to instigate a large-scale testing, tracing and isolation strategy. Although some testing has been conducted, the stance in the UK was to encourage symptomatic people to solely isolate in order to prevent onwards transmission.
But in a situation where we do not know the extent of asymptomatic COVID-19 infection, it might have been better to encourage testing of symptomatic people and start the tracing of contacts of positive people sooner. This is how South Korea controlled its epidemic. In the UK, testing was not scaled up and manual contact tracing only launched on May 28.