THERE should be no going back to “business as usual” when the coronavirus outbreak dies down, say environmental campaigners.

An XR Furness spokesman said the reduction in flights and driving as people work from home has led to a huge improvement in air quality, much less CO2 being released into the atmosphere and a new feeling of community.

“In China, deaths from coronavirus stood at 3,208 yesterday," he said.

“But the improved air quality there as a result of the outbreak could have prevented between 50,000 and 75,000 deaths from air pollution. Here we’re enjoying seeing - although at a safe distance - our friends and families more in the open air and being part of a community, helping each other in a way that feels right. We’ve got to learn from this that there are better ways to live.

"For instance, more than 2,000 people have joined a Facebook page, Self Isolate Ulverston, where younger people - who are much less at risk from the virus - are volunteering to deliver food and older folk are sharing tips or just chatting. Outside people are being more friendly to each other.

But the fear was, said the spokesman, that instead of building on the improvement in the quality of people's lives, the old system would be rebooted as the outbreak slows.

"That happened after the 2018 financial crash. Emissions of CO2, which had been down, shot up again.

"We can't go back to the rat race that was driving us to extinction.

"We've got to learn from this that there are better ways to live.

"Some people may think this is pie in the sky. But to think we can go on as we were, despite clear warning from scientists, is completely unrealistic."

The spokesman added that it was important that people followed the advice to self isolate and to keep the correct distance from other people - two metres or six feet seven inches.

"Some people - many of them older and more at risk - are unaware of the facts or in denial about this deadly virus. It's a bit like the 'phoney war' after Britain declared war on Germany in 1939. Nothing happened for a while - but then it did!

"To reduce the number of deaths, we must follow the advice - we don't want to end up competing with each other for ventilators."