One coronavirus patient ‘can infect 59,000 people – compared to 14 with flu’

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ONE coronavirus patient can infect 59,000 people – compared to 14 with flu, according to an expert.

Dr Hugh Montgomery, professor of intensive care medicine at University College London, has worked out how ignoring social distancing can lead to a major rise in infection rates.

 One coronavirus patient can infect 59,000 people - compared to 14 with flu, an expert has revealed

One coronavirus patient can infect 59,000 people – compared to 14 with flu, an expert has revealed

 Professor Hugh Montgomery has revealed how he used a simple maths formula to show how quickly Covid-19 spreads

Professor Hugh Montgomery has revealed how he used a simple maths formula to show how quickly Covid-19 spreads

Prof Montgomery said that for each individual coronavirus patient, 59,000 more people could be infected.

Speaking to Channel4’s dispatches, 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.

“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 ten times, I’ve been responsible for about 14 cases of flu.

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

This coronavirus is very, very infctious, so every person passes it to three.Professor Hugh MontgomeryUniversity College London

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

He said that while most people are going to feel a bit unwell, they will recover, but by not self-isolating themselves, they will spread it around.

Prof Montgomery continued: “A few will get sick,at about day ten of their illness, so they will need to come to a hospital.

“When they’re in a hospital they will consume resources and time, and people will look after them quite rightly.

“They will be monitored to see if they become really, really sick.

“Those people then come to an intensive care unit and that’s where, if you’re critically ill, your life gets saved or not – and this is the issue.

“If we’ve got a limited resource, which we have, a limited number of ventilators, a limited number of doctors, a limited number of nurses – if we overwhelm that, we can’t provide that service of caring for these people properly.”

‘It’s going to be ugly’

Prof Montgomery added: “I’m not going to play it down, 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.

“We can save the lives of a large number of those people too.

“But please just remember the best chance we can give to the people who do fall ill is if we’ve got enough beds and enough staff and enough kit to be able to be there for you.

“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.”

It comes as the Health Secretary branded those who are ignoring social distancing advice to stay two metres apart as “very selfish”.

Matt Hancock also indicated that further measures could be brought in to tackle the virus.

Over the weekend, photos emerged showing crowds of people visiting open spaces across many parts of the uk.

The Government has said it is safe to exercise as long as people keep at least two metres away from other people.