The official warnings about a no-deal Brexit (“Johnson to warn ‘time running out’”, October 19) ignore the interaction of port delays with the virus. A no-deal Brexit on January 1 would mean long waits in lay-bys for thousands of truck drivers probably in bad weather. This would be a classic situation for super-spreading of the virus. Drivers would have to present recent test results in order to cross.
There would be a block on entry to France and Belgium, threatening weeks of delay for vital medicines, food and equipment. There would also be serious effects on the Irish economy, which depends for supply on the truck routes though Wales to Dover.
The crisis would threaten movement over a much longer period as experienced drivers are an irreplaceable resource. It would also lead to hardship and poverty across the UK as many families have already exhausted their reserves.
The pandemic has surely created a new factor for the whole Brexit discussion around disease prevention. The looming national emergency can only be avoided by securing an agreement with the EU, which should cover contingency plans on virus prevention as well as other issues. Even better would be a six-month extension of the transition. There is still time to avoid this looming super-emergency.
Professor of Health Policy,
Imperial College, London SW7, UK