Over the past week, the spread of coronavirus across Europe has seen multiple countries react by banning large public gatherings and, as a result, matches in multiple leagues have taken place behind closed doors or been cancelled entirely.
In England, so far at least that hasn’t happened—and according to the country’s chief medical officer, it’s not about to. This despite a growing belief by many watching on that it’s only a question of when and not if England follows suit.
“We have expert modellers looking at what we think will happen with the virus,” said Dr. Jenny Harries. “We’ve looked at what sorts of interventions might help manage this as we go forward and push the peak of the epidemic forward.
“In general, those sorts of events and big gatherings are not seen to be something which is going to have a big effect, so we don’t want to disrupt people’s lives. As a professional, I am absolutely delighted that we are following the science.”
The final decision will lie with the government—as well as potentially with sports governing bodies should the British government continue to allow large gathers and public sporting events to continue whilst other nations seek to limit them.
Currently, there have been 456 confirmed cases of the virus in the UK along with six confirmed deaths, well behind the more than 12,000 cases and 350 deaths in Italy or the 1,700 to 2,100 cases in each of Spain, Germany, and France.
“There are other things that we can do in this country and the timing is really important,” Harries added. “We need to get the timing, firstly on helping to stop the spread and then to continue to contain the virus, right as much as we can.”