Current measures taken to tackle the corona, such as lockdown and social distance, must remain in place for at least the next three weeks, in line with the recommendations of the Scientific Council, Secretary of State Dominic Raab said at today’s briefing on the progress of the pandemic.
The death toll from the coronavirus recorded in the last 24 hours reaches 861, bringing the total to 13,729, according to a statement from the Ministry of Health. Yesterday the death toll was 761.
Opposition leader Keir Starmer, in a statement announcing the decision to continue the lockdown, expressed his full support and stressed that the priority should be to ensure the increase of tests, the protective equipment of medical personnel and the protection of care homes.
The scientific council, which briefed the government earlier, said some of the measures were effective, but in some cases the picture was heterogeneous, so relaxing them could lead to a resurgence of the virus, which would worsen the economy.
The Foreign Minister clarified that before any decision to relax the restrictions, there should be changes in five factors: the capacity of hospitals, a steady decline in the daily rate of deaths, reliable data that the rate of transmission is reduced to manageable levels, controlled and distribution of personal protective equipment, as well as that any regulations will not burden the National Health System.
“We have come far enough to give up now. There is light at the end of the tunnel, but if we hurry now, we could risk all the progress that has been made, and that could lead to a second outbreak of the epidemic and a second lockdown,” he said. Asked what would happen next, he said: “We have to keep going, if we leave now, it would be disastrous for public health, but also disastrous for the economy” and stressed that it would be “irresponsible” to give an artificial timeline at a time when data is constantly reviewed by the Scientific Council.
Referring to Professor Ferguson’s assessments earlier today that social distance measures could last until a vaccine is found, Dominic Raab stressed that the right decisions will be made at the right time and that this includes the possibility of “a transition period” leaving the current lockdown measures, with gradual easing.
The chief scientific adviser to the government, Sir Patrick Vallance, presented the data on the pandemic, noting that the number of cases is stabilizing or and that in some parts of the country, the number of patients in hospital beds has decreased (up to 3%).
Regarding antibody tests, the government’s chief medical adviser, Chris Whitty, said that so far there is no reliable test and no good sample frame, however, there will soon be an approximate number of people affected by the virus.
According to a YouGov poll, 91% of Britons of all age groups said they would support an extension of the lockdown measures, 67% of whom said they strongly supported such a decision.