Doctor explains how just one person with coronavirus could infect 59,000 others

24 March 2020, 14:10

In comparison, someone with normal flu would just pass it onto 14 people, claims expert.

An intensive care doctor has explained how a person with coronavirus could pass it onto 59,000 people, compared with just 14 others for normal flu.

You can find the latest Coronavirus (Covid-19) advice from the NHS here.

Dr Hugh Montgomery, professor of intensive care medicine at University College London, appeared on Channel 4's Dispatches to illustrate how Covid-19 is three time more infectious than normal flu - and emphasised the important of social distancing.

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He said: "Normal flu, if I get that, I’m going to infect on average, about 1.3, 1.4 people – if there was such a division. 

The expert urged the public to follow government advice
The expert urged the public to follow government advice. Picture: Channel 4

"And if those 1.3, 1.4 people gave it to the next lot, that’s the second time it gets passed on. 

"By the time that’s happened 10 times, I’ve been responsible for about 14 cases of flu. 

"This coronavirus is very, very infectious, so every person passes it to three. 

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"Now that doesn’t sound like much of a difference, but if each of those three passes it to three, and that happens at 10 layers, I have been responsible for infecting 59,000 people."

He also stressed the importance of following government advice on social distancing, saying: "I’m not going to play it down.

The government announced a three-week period of lockdown measures last night
The government announced a three-week period of lockdown measures last night. Picture: Getty

"It’s going to be ugly, it’s going to be horrible for a large number of people – but it will be a small number of people who get properly sick and a smaller percentage of those again that need to come to an intensive care unit and we can save the lives of a large number of those people too. 

"But please just remember that the best chance we can give for the people who did fall ill is if we have got enough beds and enough staff and enough kit to be able to be there for you. 

"And if you are irresponsible enough to think that you don’t mind if you get the flu, remember it’s not about you, it’s about everybody else.


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