The Guardian view on the UK’s coronavirus plan: sensible, but belated | Editorial

A measured response is appropriate. But important questions remain about our ability to tackle Covid-19

As Covid-19 has spread, to more than 70 countries already, people are learning not only about the new coronavirus, but about their governments’ ability to respond to it. In many countries, from China to South Korea and Iran, anger at the shortcomings is widely held and deeply felt. With a low but fast-growing tally of 51 cases in the UK, the British government, none too soon, has published its action plan.

This is a government that believes in providing opportunities rather than a safety net; it seems reluctant to employ the powers of the state to shield or protect. Nor does it want to take the blame for problems. One might have been forgiven for thinking that Boris Johnson had self-isolated, given how little we have seen of him recently. The public has already taken matters into its own hands, with consumers stockpiling canned goods and hand sanitiser. But this is not the kind of situation that can be managed without the state, and Mr Johnson, too, can see the political perils of simply disappearing from the scene.

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