Incorrect news story claims “Britain declares an end to the coronavirus threat”

Akeed – Dana Al Emam

Local news sites and social media platforms have circulated a news story claiming that the British government had changed its classification of the coronavirus from a pandemic to a communicable disease, marking an end to the danger of the virus. Akeed verified this story, and found it to be incorrect.  

The news story, which was based on false information, quoted the UK government as saying that there is nothing to fear from the coronavirus, except for those suffering from preexisting health problems; and that coronavirus infections could be combated through the use of painkillers like paracetamol.

Some of the misinformation being circulated referred to a statement by the British government from June 2020, which announced that coronavirus treatment would not be limited to health centers designated for the treatment of highly contagious diseases. The range of healthcare facilities used for treating coronavirus cases was, in fact, to be expanded.

The government’s statement also included a proposal by the Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens to no longer classify the coronavirus as a highly contagious disease. This was done in light of more information on the mortality rates attributed to the virus, and especially given the ability of medical personnel to manage infections.

Contrary to what the incorrect news story claimed, British authorities recently intensified their measures for limiting the spread of the coronavirus, due to a rise in the number of infections. As of September 18th 2020, gatherings of more than six people in a single place have become forbidden, as is meeting with people from other households outside residential spaces.  

The recent tightening also included a prohibition on using public transit except when necessary, such as for commuting to work or schools. The new measures also banned the attendance of unofficial sporting events and mandated the closure of leisure venues from 10pm until 5am.

On its official website, the British government explained that the tightened measures came after record numbers of infections were registered in the northeastern and northwestern regions of the kingdom.

As of September 28th 2020, new penalties will be imposed on those who are infected with the coronavirus and do not adhere to home isolation, with fines reaching as high as £10,000. These measures come after a substantial increase in the number of new infections, which reached 4,422 last Saturday.

UK government data indicated that the total number of coronavirus infections in Britain has reached 394,257, while the total number of deaths has reached 41,777.