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On 22nd September 2020 the UK Government announced new lockdown restrictions to supress the COVID-19 virus, with some areas of England having more restrictive lockdown guidance. Students in a number of cities have been confined to their halls of residences after outbreaks of COVID-19 and in Manchester security guards were preventing students leaving the buildings. The scientific community are, unsurprisingly, divided over the question of how far lockdowns should extend.1 Monday 21st September 2020 saw the publication of two open letter to the UK government and Chief Medical Officers. One group, Sunetra Gupta et al,2 argued for a selective lockdown targeting the most vulnerable. The other, headed by Trisha Greenhalgh, arguing that attempts to suppress the virus should operate across the whole community.3 As we enter what appears to be a second wave of COVID-19 infections and accompanying lockdown measures, ethical debates over the appropriateness and extent of such measures are critical.
Julian Savulescu and James Cameron4 in their article on lockdown of the elderly and why this is not ageist, put forward the case that, ‘an appropriate approach may be to lift the general lockdown but implement selective isolation of the elderly.’ Their central claim is that selective isolation of the elderly is to be preferred to imposing lockdown on all members of society. The aim of lockdown, restricting movement and key activities, is designed to reduce the number of deaths from COVID-19 and also to prevent the healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed. As the elderly are at significantly more risk of having severe cases of COVID-19 and therefore more likely to place demands on healthcare services, they are clearly prime candidates for lockdown measures, measures that will not only benefit them but the whole of society. This is not ageist as …
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