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What UK should learn from Asia on fighting coronavirus

Financial Times' former editor on lessons in pandemic prevention

Lionel Barber, then-editor of the Financial Times, seen speaking at a forum in Turin, Italy in June 2017. 

LONDON -- End of Freedom, proclaimed the front page of the Daily Telegraph. House Arrest, declared The Sun. The Times of London was circumspect about U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson's measures to tackle the COVID-19 virus. Its headline simply quoted the Prime Minister: You Must Stay at Home.

Britain's state of national emergency has been a long time coming. Maybe too long. The number of reported coronavirus cases and deaths has started to climb steeply, threatening to overwhelm an already hard-pressed National Health Service. Having held out for several weeks, the government has finally capitulated, ordering a nationwide lockdown unprecedented outside wartime.

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