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Do not take ibuprofen when suffering from coronavirus, warns chief scientific adviser

Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said people should not take ibuprofen when suffering from coronavirus.

The UK's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said people should not take ibuprofen when suffering from coronavirus.

French health minister Olivier Veran has suggested that anti-inflammatory drugs could worsen the infection.

Sir Patrick told MPs: “The ibuprofen example – it may or may not be right, I don’t know, but the sensible thing to do would be to say don’t take it at the moment, take something else – paracetamol or something.”

The number of people to test positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 9am on Tuesday is 1,950, up from 1,543 on Monday, the Department of Health said.

A total of 50,442 people have been tested with 48,492 negative results.

The department said an update on the number of deaths would be announced later on Tuesday.

Sir Patrick Vallance called for a “big increase” in the amount of testing that is done for the virus.

Asked if testing on the scale of South Korea was required, the chief scientific adviser said: “I think we need a big increase in testing.

“That’s what I’m pushing for very hard. Everyone is working hard to try and make that happen.”

But Sir Patrick said it was important not to have people turning up to hospitals for tests and instead a community-based approach was needed, possibly involving the private sector.

“There is a lot of work going on in Public Health England, NHS and DHSC to select which test we should go for and how that can be ramped up – possibly, and I think quite rightly, by the private sector so we can get things out there fast on the community side, having the other parts of the testing controlled by Public Health England for the hospitals and the other bits that need to be done.”

Sir Patrick Vallance said closing schools remained an option that was on the table to curb the spread of coronavirus.

He told MPs that closing schools “would have an effect” but less so than other interventions and “it has all sorts of complicated effects as well”, including potentially leading to children being looked after by grandparents.

It would also cause an “enormous problem” for the workforce, including in the NHS.

“It’s absolutely on the table, as the whole suite of measures are,  the evidence base is there to suggest where it might work and where it doesn’t work, and decisions will, I’m sure, be made at the time they need to be made around school closures, which is one of the levers to pull to try to get on top of this at the right time.

“But it’s not without quite complex consequences.”

Summing up the scale of the challenge, Sir Patrick said: “I don’t think any of us have seen anything like this.

“This is a first in not just a generation but potentially the first for 100 years, so none of us have seen this.”

It was a “daily changing, unique situation where we are learning as we go along”.

Sir Patrick said they would expect to see an effect from the Government’s latest measures after about two to three weeks, with the number of new cases starting to fall.

He said case isolation could bring the peak of the outbreak down by about 20%, whole household quarantine by about 25%, and general social distancing by about 50%, while social “shielding” of the elderly could reduce the mortality rate by 20% to 30%.

“Together you should expect those to have a very significant effect on the peak and we should start to see the rates come down in two or three weeks time,” he told the committee.

Sir Patrick said they hoped the number of deaths could be kept below 20,000.

“That is the hope that we can get it down to that. To put that into perspective, every year in seasonal flu the number of deaths is thought to be 8,000,” he said.

“If we can get this down to numbers 20,000 and below that is a good outcome in terms of where we would hope to get to with this outbreak. It is still horrible. That is still an enormous number of deaths.”

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