The time has come for the Government to make some difficult decisions

2020欧洲杯网站In evidence to the Commons health and social care select committee, Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government’s chief scientific adviser, made an obvious but important point. Where a pandemic is concerned, nothing we do is risk-free. He explained how the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (Sage), which he chairs, provides options to ministers and it is for them to decide what to do on an informed evidential basis.

Managing the risks, and explaining them to the country, is the Government’s job, not that of the scientists. When ministers say they are guided by the science they cannot at the same time hide behind it. Sooner or later, a judgment must be made about the damage that is being caused by the measures to contain Covid-19. Tomorrow, the Cabinet, armed with the latest Sage information, will carry out the second three-week review of the lockdown announced on March 24. We have passed the 40 days of quarantine that used to be imposed in times of plague.

It is not an easy call to make and no-one pretends that it is. The economic prognosis worsens by the day. The revelation that some 27 million people are now being paid by the state has led the Chancellor Rishi Sunak to tell colleagues that this is not sustainable for much longer.

Even if the measures are eased now the damage to many businesses and jobs will be permanent because they rely on a resurgence of demand that is simply not going to happen2020欧洲杯网站. The bullish expectations that the country would bounce back swiftly are unlikely to be realised.

This is an unenviable backdrop for Boris Johnson and his team but it is their job to make difficult decisions and be judged on them. After delaying the announcement of a lockdown, they are being blamed in some quarters for the fact that the UK now appears to have the highest number of deaths in Europe.

But the virus is not going away so people will continue to fall ill and die. Fear of being blamed cannot lead to excess caution now. Scientists at Bonn University in Germany now believe the fatality rate for Covid-19 is much lower than previously thought at 0.37 per cent.

Is this opinion shared by Sage and can we see their discussions about this key factor? The Government needs to spell out the level of risk for different groups so that everyone knows where they stand.