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‘Substantial majority’ of public backs tough lockdowns, says Chris Whitty

Chief medical officer says public health interventions once seen as radical were later viewed as the right thing to do

His comments – which came as the Prime Minister remained at loggerheads with Manchester leaders over the threat of lockdown – repeatedly returned to how public health interventions once seen as radical were later viewed as the right thing to do.

During a one-hour public lecture, Prof Whitty said even those who were sceptical about state interventions were likely to be “comfortable” if measures were aimed at protecting the elderly.

Governments could act too slowly, he suggested, noting that it had taken a century of campaigning before young children were banned from being sent up chimneys, adding: “Now we look back on this and we say this is quite extraordinary.”

The chief medical officer said that while the slaughter of cows to protect against BSE had been “highly controversial” at the time, there was a “strong expectation by citizens that the state would act to maintain the safety of food”.

In his university…

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