The coronavirus lockdown could last for six months or even long, the government’s deputy chief medical officer warned today.
Dr Jenny Harries told a Downing Street press conference that people should not be viewing the crisis as something that will blow over within weeks.
She said it will not be clear whether the ‘social distancing’ measures are working for another two or three weeks – with deaths set to rise further.
But even if it does, reverting to a ‘normal way of life’ immediately would probably lead to a disastrous new peak in infections, she said.
Dr Harries said people had taken ‘quite some time to get used to this new way of living’, but there was evidence the country was getting better at social distancing.
She added: ‘The issue of the three weeks is for us to review where we are and see if we’ve had an impact jointly on the slope of that curve.
‘But I think to make it clear to the public if we are successful we will have squashed the top of that curve, which is brilliant, but we must not then suddenly revert to our normal way of living that would be quite dangerous.
‘If we stop then all of our efforts will be wasted and we could potentially see a second peak.
‘So over time, probably over the next six months, we will have a three-week review.’
Boris Johnson has previously voiced optimism that the UK can ‘turn the tide’ on the outbreak within ’12 weeks’.
But government papers from scientific advisers have made clear they are anticipating a longer timeframe.
In an interview overnight, Professor Neil Ferguson, the government’s leading epidemiology adviser, suggested Britons would have to remain in their homes for three months.
Dr Jenny Harries told a Downing Street press conference that people should not be viewing the crisis as something that will blow over within weeks
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick took the briefing in Downing Street today with the P in self-isolation
Pushed at the briefing today whether she was saying must be on lockdown for the next six months, Dr Harries said: ‘We actually anticipate our numbers will get worse over the next week, possibly two, and then we are looking to see whether we have managed to push that curve down and we start to see a decline.’
She added: ‘This is not to say we would be in complete lockdown for six months, but as a nation we have to be really, really responsible and keep doing what we’re all doing until we’re sure we can gradually start lifting various interventions which are likely to be spaced – based on the science and our data – until we gradually come back to a normal way of living.’
Mr Johnson, who is self-isolating after testing positive for Covid-19, has written an open letter to the British public warning that ‘things will get worse before they get better’ as he stressed the need to stay indoors to support the NHS by slowing the spread.
Senior government figures have been more optimistic and have suggested that coronavirus could peak in April with approximately 5,700 deaths. But Professor Ferguson said Britons will need to stay indoors for a full three months.
Professor Ferguson added that even if the lockdown is lifted, people will still need to abide by social distancing measures for months to come.
It came as Michael Gove today declined to be drawn on how long the tough measures restricting people’s lives would be in place for, and that ministers would not hesitate to enforce tougher rules if necessary.
‘There are different projections as to how long the lockdown might last,’ he told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday, when asked about one key expert’s prediction of June.
‘But it’s not the case that the length of the lockdown is something that is absolutely fixed.
‘It depends on all of our behaviour. If we follow the guidelines, we can deal more effectively with the spread of the disease.’
The normally bustling streets of central London are once again deserted today as people choose to stay home amid the coronavirus threat
Nine-year-old Eve looks out of the front window at home, as the number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases grow around the world
The news comes as Governmental advisers warn that even stricter social distancing measures could be under way if the staggering increase in figures doesn’t stop
But the positive message Mr Gove delivered was that the public appear to be heeding the advice.
‘At the moment, all the evidence is that people are observing the rules, if you look at the number of people on public transport that has fallen, if you look at footfall in supermarkets and other stores, that has fallen as well,’ he said.
‘We keep things under review in order to ensure that if there are further steps they can be implemented.’
Across the country a total of 120,776 coronavirus tests have taken place, and a whopping 17,089 have come back positive for Covid-19.
In other coronavirus developments across the country:
- Britain’s coronavirus death toll rocketed by 260 to 1,019 as the UK suffered its worst day yet and saw a huge spike in victims, 13 of which were found to have no underlying health conditions
- Ministers and senior Downing Street officials have said China now faces a ‘reckoning’ over its handling of the outbreak and risks becoming a ‘pariah state’.
- The true number of people infected with coronavirus in the UK could be as high as 1.6 million, with over half of those cases outside of London, analysis by health care data experts suggests.
- Chancellor Rishi Sunak is the choice of voters to run the country if Boris Johnson becomes too ill, an exclusive poll for The Mail on Sunday has found.
- NHS workers began being tested for coronavirus at a temporary drive through testing station in the car park of Chessington World of Adventures in Chessington
- Photos revealed the inside of the ExCel centre in London which is being made into a temporary hospital with two wards, each for 2,000 people, to help tackle the coronavirus response
- The British Red Cross said evictions of asylum seekers from Government accommodation are to be halted amid fears about the disease
- Humberside, West Midlands, Greater Manchester, and Avon and Somerset have created a mixture of ‘hotlines’ and ‘online portals’ where people can submit tip-offs if lockdown infractions occur
- National director of the NHS, Stephen Powis, yesterday revealed that 170million masks, 25million gloves and 30million aprons have been delivered to medical staff fighting virus across the country
To try and ensure the effectiveness of the lockdown, the Government is spending approximately £5.8million on letters that will land on 30 million doorsteps along with a leaflet spelling out the Government’s advice following much public confusion.
Professor Neil Ferguson said Britons will need to stay indoors for a full three months
The letters and leaflets are the latest in a public information campaign from No 10 to convince people to stay at home, wash their hands and shield the most vulnerable from the disease.
‘We know things will get worse before they get better,’ the PM’s letter will read.
‘But we are making the right preparations, and the more we all follow the rules, the fewer lives will be lost and the sooner life can return to normal.
‘It has been truly inspirational to see our doctors, nurses and other carers rise magnificently to the needs of the hour.
‘Thousands of retired doctors and nurses are returning to the NHS – and hundreds of thousands of citizens are volunteering to help the most vulnerable.
‘That is why, at this moment of national emergency, I urge you, please, to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.’
Amid allegations of confusing messages on the lockdown, the leaflet will outline the Government’s rules on leaving the house and advice on shielding vulnerable people.
A clear explanation of the symptoms will also be included as will guidance on hand washing.
Panic has gripped the nation as it was revealed that today’s total number of deaths is 34 per cent higher than yesterday’s and today has seen the largest daily increase since March 18, when the total shot up from 71 to 104.
The normally busy streets in Chinatown are completely deserted on Sunday as people choose to stay at home
The letters and leaflets are the latest in a public information campaign from No 10 to convince people to stay at home, wash their hands and shield the most vulnerable from the disease
A handout photo made available by n10 Downing street shows Britain’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson chairing the morning Covid-19 meeting after self isolating after testing positive for the Coronavirus in n10 Downing street in London, Britain today
A medic can be seen attending to the occupants of a car at a coronavirus drive-through testing station in Chessington
13 of the 260 who died in UK’s blackest day so far in coronavirus crisis had no underlying health conditions
Britain’s coronavirus death toll rocketed by 260 to 1,019 yesterday as the UK suffered its worst day yet and saw a huge spike in victims, 13 of which were found to have no underlying health conditions.
Across the country a total of 120,776 coronavirus tests have taken place, and a whopping 17,089 have come back positive for Covid-19.
A statement from the NHS said: ‘Patients were aged between 33 and 100 years old and all but 13 (aged between 63 and 99 years old) had underlying health conditions.’
One such ‘fit and healthy’ 28-year-old, Adam Harkins Sullivan, died from the disease last week after contracting pneumonia and being put into an induced coma.
Panic has gripped the nation as it was revealed that yesterday’s total number of deaths is 34 per cent higher than yesterday’s and yesterday saw the largest daily percentage increase since March 18, when the total shot up from 71 to 104.
However, there has been a slight improvement in the daily rate of new cases. A further 2,510 patients were diagnosed with the virus yesterday, a drop of 411 from the 2,921 new patients diagnosed the day before.
However, there has been a slight improvement in the daily rate of new cases. A further 2,510 patients were diagnosed with the virus today, a drop of 411 from the 2,921 new patients diagnosed yesterday.
It is unclear whether this drop in new cases is as a result of social distancing measures or because less people are being tested for the virus.
The deadly virus is continuing to spread across the country at an exponential rate – it took just 13 days for the number of deaths to go from one to more than 100.
And it has only taken a further 10 days for the total to go from 100 to more than 1,000.
Overall, the number of confirmed cases in the UK is 17,089. But just one week ago, the total paled in comparison at 5,018.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is already having to lead the response to the pandemic from Downing Street after he was diagnosed with the disease.
He has been accused of failing to follow his own social distancing rules after Health Secretary Matt Hancock tested positive and England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty began self-isolating with symptoms.
The news comes as Governmental advisers warn that even stricter social distancing measures could be under way if the staggering increase in figures doesn’t stop.
It came as the true number of people infected with coronavirus in the UK could be as high as 1.6 million, with over half of those cases outside of London, analysis by health care data experts suggests.
The Cambridge family are self isolating at Anmer Hall on the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk amid the Coronavirus pandemic, and shared a glimpse at their home office yesterday. Kate posed in her dusky pink trouser suit as she spoke on the phone. A row of books including an extensive set of Coralie Bickford-Smith for Penguin books can be seen on her wooden desk, along with her Aspinal notebook, while a sofa and and a window seat looking out onto the grounds can be seen in the background
Michael Gove says coronavirus tests have FINALLY hit 10,000 a day – but still can’t say when all NHS frontline staff will get checks
Britain is finally carrying out 10,000 tests per day to diagnose
Amid mounting criticism about slow progress gearing up the response, the Cabinet minister insisted the government was ‘very concerned’ about the growing death toll and was doing ‘all that we can’ to ‘accelerate’ the numbers of tests.
But he declined to give a timescale for when all frontline
Britain is finally carrying out 10,000 tests per day to diagnose coronavirus, Michael Gove confirmed today
And there is still no clear idea when the UK will be conducting the 25,000 tests a day promised by Boris Johnson.
The comments came as former
And with a predicted daily growth rate of 20 per cent that figure may now stand at 2.8 million people, just three days after the modelling was carried out, reports The Sunday Telegraph.
Edge Health, a UK health care data analysis company, revealed that while the official figure of coronavirus cases stood at 10,000 on March 26, the company’s estimated true figure for infections in the UK was 1,614,505.
With widespread testing not yet available in Britain and swabs only being given to those in hospital and some NHS critical care staff, there could be thousands who have COVID-19 and are not aware of it, the study suggests.
Those with milder symptoms who are not admitted to hospital are also not accounted for in official figures.
A statement from NHS England said: ‘Patients were aged between 33 and 100 years old and all but 13 (aged between 63 and 99 years old) had underlying health conditions.’
The endorsement comes after the Prime Minister revealed on Friday that he had tested positive for
Mr Johnson’s approach to the crisis receives overwhelming backing, with 78 per cent saying that he is handling it well.
However, that does not mean voters agree with the pace of implementation of Mr Johnson’s lockdown measures.
A group of furious locals blocked a Range Rover driver after he travelled 115 miles from Sheffield to Snowdonia despite the coronavirus lockdown
Government pandemic exercise predicted four years ago that Asian respiratory virus would overwhelm NHS
A Government exercise four years ago predicted a deadly virus from Asia would arrive in the UK and leave the NHS on its knees, but was not published because the results were ‘too terrifying’.
In October 2016, epidemiologists from Imperial College London told Government ministers what Britain would look like seven weeks into a pandemic.
Exercise Cygnus showed the NHS unable to cope, with a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) for doctors and nurses, inadequate numbers of ventilators and mortuaries overflowing.
It was carried out by the same experts responsible for the nation’s coronavirus modelling, but the results were never revealed, reports the Sunday Telegraph.
A paper detailing Imperial’s research read: ‘The exercise was set seven weeks into a severe pandemic outbreak and challenged the NHS to review its response to an overwhelmed service with reduced staff availability.’
Cygnus was based on a virus similar to H2N2 influenza, which like COVID-19 causes deadly respiratory illness in patients.
A total of 63 per cent think that the social distancing rules were introduced too late.
On the controversial issue of testing, 83 per cent believe that doctors and nurses should be given priority but just 19 per cent think that senior politicians should be prioritised – and only 15 per cent think the Royal Family should.
Most people also think that Britain is in for a long haul, with half of those questioned expecting restrictions to be in place for three months.
And a majority think that tackling the outbreak is worth curtailing civil liberties, with 61 per cent agreeing that it is a necessary price.
The latest figures come after Scottish Secretary Alister Jack revealed he had developed mild symptoms of coronavirus and was self-isolating.
Government advisers said stricter social distancing policies may have to be rolled out next month if the grim figures continued to rise.
The measures would be introduced in three weeks as the outbreak reached its peak to further reduce ‘person-to-person interaction’.
How London became a Covid-19 hub as virus mutated into eight different strains and raced around the world – as coronavirus around the world as global cases top 666,000 and deaths hit 30,864
by Keith Griffith for Daily Mail
A fascinating video shows how London became a hub for the global spread of coronavirus after the initial outbreak in China.
Scientists have used genetic sequencing data to illustrate how different strands of the virus travelled to the UK via the capital and how it was passed on to other countries.
The map, produced by NextStrain.org, shows how COVID-19 started in Wuhan, before spreading across Asia to Singapore and South Korea, before being carried by travellers to London. From there, it was flown to the USA and across Europe.
A map based on genetic sequences reveal how coronavirus was spread across the globe, with London quickly becoming a hub
Yesterday saw the biggest increase in UK deaths in one day, with the figures jumping 260 to 1,016. There have now been more than 17,000 confirmed cases.
The data also reveals there are eight different strands of the virus, but they all appear to mutate very slowly, with only tiny differences between them.
Data scientists behind the map say none of the strains of the virus are more deadly than any of the others.
They also claim that the strains will not grow more lethal as they evolve.
‘The virus mutates so slowly that the virus strains are fundamentally very similar to each other,’ Charles Chiu, a professor of medicine and infectious disease at the University of
Tracking the different strains of SARS-CoV-2, as the virus is officially named, allows scientists to see whether containment measures are working, by showing whether new cases are from community spread, or imported from a different hotspot.
Researchers stress that the different strains are fundamentally similar, because coronavirus mutates very slowly, about eight to 10 times slower than the common flu.
A ‘family tree’ of SARS-CoV-2 shows how different mutations have developed
So far even in the virus’s most divergent strains scientists have found only 11 base pair changes, out of a genome of 30,000 base pairs.
That means the different strains are not causing different symptoms, or inflicting different rates of fatality.
Although different countries around the world have recorded significantly different fatality rates, this is almost certainly because they are testing their populations at different rates.
Because many cases have no symptoms, aggressive and widespread testing makes the fatality rate appear to drop, because the total number of confirmed cases is much higher.
Researchers also say that when patients show no symptoms, or mild symptoms, it is not because they have contracted a ‘mild strain’ of the virus.
Rather, differences in symptoms most likely have more to do with an individual’s own immune system and general health. A strain that has little effect on one person could be deadly to another.
This electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health shows SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19
‘The current virus strains are still fundamentally very similar to each other,’ Chiu said.
In the UK, widespread testing is not available, with only those admitted to hospital entitled to a swab.
Over the weekend, it was announced that tests are to be rolled out among frontline NHS staff, starting with critical care doctors and nurses.
The slow mutation rate of the virus has given scientists hope that an eventual vaccine could provide protection for years, or even decades.
Depending on how quickly a virus mutates, some vaccines have to be regularly updated, such a flu vaccines that have to be administered every year.
Other vaccines, such as for measles and chickenpox, provide protection for decades, or even a lifetime.
On Monday, Peter Thielen, a biologist with the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, said that it appears coronavirus mutates slowly, more like measles and chickenpox than the flu.
Peter Thielen (front), a biologist with the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, said that it appears coronavirus mutates slowly, more like measles and chickenpox than the flu
‘When this virus was first sequenced in China, that information was helpful in starting the process to develop a vaccine,’ Thielen explained in a statement.
‘What we’re doing informs whether or not the virus is mutating away from that original sequence, and how quickly,’ he continued, describing his experiments to sequence the genome of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
‘Based on the mutation rate, early data indicates that this would likely be a single vaccine rather than one that needs to be updated each year, like the flu shot,’ he said.
Experts say that the earliest a vaccine for coronavirus could be widely available is a year to 18 months.
Although vaccine trials are underway in the U.S., UK and elsewhere, time is needed to prove the shots safe and effective before they are rolled out to millions.
Keeping Covid-19 deaths below 20,000 would be a good result, says NHS medical director Stephen Powis who says 170million masks, 25million gloves and 30million aprons have been delivered to medical staff fighting virus
By Isabella Nikolic for MailOnline
The United Kingdom will have done well if it comes through the
When asked if he hoped that the United Kingdom was not on the same trajectory as countries such as
‘If it is less than 20,000… that would be a good result though every death is a tragedy, but we should not be complacent about that,’ said Powis, speaking at a news conference in
He said the
The United Kingdom will have done well if it comes through the coronavirus crisis with fewer than 20,000 deaths said the national medical director (pictured, Stephen Powis) of the NHS
When asked if he hoped that the United Kingdom was not on the same trajectory as countries such as Italy , Stephen Powis (pictured alongside Business Secretary Alok Sharma) said: ‘If we can keep deaths below 20,000 we will have done very well in this epidemic’
Mr Powis insisted getting personal protective equipment (PPE) to healthcare staff was an ‘absolute priority’ as he detailed the numbers of products sent out.
More than 170million of the ‘very highest level masks’ have been dispatched ‘in the last couple of weeks,’ he said.
He added 40million gloves had been sent in recent days, as well as 25million face masks and 30million aprons.
‘So vast numbers going out,’ he said.
‘We’re strengthening the supply chain every day to ensure that every organisation gets the equipment that they need, that’s an absolute priority for us.’
Business Secretary Alok Sharma said Johnson continues to show only ‘mild symptoms’ of coronavirus.
‘He continues to lead the government’s effort in combating Covid-19,’ Sharma told reporters.
‘This morning he held a video conference call and he will continue to lead right from the front on this.’
The United Kingdom will have done well if it comes through the coronavirus crisis with fewer than 20,000 deaths, Stephen Powis, the national medical director of the National Health Service, said on Saturday