UK medical chief spells out stark reality of when Stoke City and football can return to normal



Dr Jenny Harries, England’s deputy chief medical officer, has said it could be six months or longer before the country gets back to normal after the coronavirus pandemic.

Ms Harries was speaking at the daily Downing Street briefing this afternoon and was discussing the lockdown measures implemented by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to minimise the impact of Covid-19.

All sport has been called off, with the football season and all professional and National League fixtures postponed until April 30 at least – with an acknowledgement it could be much later.

Stoke City have nine games remaining of the 2019/20 season, with Michael O’Neill having hauled the club up from the bottom of the Championship when he arrived in November.

There has been talk of the season being declared null and void but the EFL want to complete the campaign with summer football on the agenda.

However, there’s absolutely no prospect of football anytime soon.

The country is on lockdown for at least the next three weeks and measures will be reviewed on a three-week basis; ‘keeping the lid’ on cases over the next two to three months and only easing restrictions gradually – or turning levels on and off.

Dr Harries has said it could take up to six months – and possible more – until the country returns to its normal state.

“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 said.

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.”

There will be three-week review on the measures implemented.

“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,” she added.

“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.”





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