Covid-19: Leading Government scientist says it’s ‘too early’ to know lockdown impact



A leading Government advisor has said it is ‘too early’ to see the impact the UK lockdown has had on the spread of coronavirus.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed strict social distancing rules on the country a fortnight ago to help contain the spread of Covid-19 – saying the measures would be reviewed after three weeks.

But, two weeks into the lockdown,  Professor Dame Angela McLean, the deputy chief scientific adviser, said it was too early to tell the full impact the lockdown was having on the spread of the disease.

It came hours after Public Health England revealed a total 5,373 died having tested positive for Covid-19.

Speaking at the daily coronavirus briefing, Dame Angela said: “We need a good, long time series of data on all of these stages of infection in order to be able to tell what the impact of the measures that came on March 23 are going to be.

“It’s too early to tell yet, we need people to carry on following those instructions so that we can work out three weeks later what actually happens in hospitals.”

She added: “We need to know how well the current restrictions are working before we can say anything sensible about what the next stage might be.”

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab also said the Government’s priority was to “stop the spread and make sure we can get past the peak”.

He was asked about what the Government’s “exit strategy” is from the current lockdown policy.

He said: “That’s the over-riding focus of the Government right now. The other decisions can be considered in light of the evidence that we’re taking from Angela and Chris in due course.”

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Professor Chris Whitty, in his first public appearance since recovering from coronavirus symptoms, said that it would be a mistake to discuss the next phase of managing the pandemic until there is confidence that the peak has been reached.

He said: “The key thing is to get to the point where we are confident we have reached the peak and this is now beyond the peak and at that point I think it is possible to have a serious discussion about all the things we need to do step-by-step to move to the next phase of managing this.

“But I think to start having that discussion until we’re confident that that’s where we’ve got to, would I think be a mistake.”

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