BBC host grills professor on coronavirus lockdowns
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England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty and his counterparts in the rest of the UK signed off on the move following a significant drop in daily coronavirus infections in recent weeks. The alert level is now at the same as it was last summer, as the UK begins to see light at the end of the tunnel of the pandemic nightmare.
The virus is now said to be in “general circulation”, with restrictions able to be eased across the country.
Just five month ago the UK was at level five, meaning there was a “risk of healthcare services being overwhelmed”.
Yesterday there were two new coronavirus deaths recorded, with the seven-day average dropping by almost 40 percent in a week.
There were 1,770 daily cases registered by a positive test reported on May 9, a significant drop from over 60,000 cases a day in January.
In a joint statement, the UK’s chief medical officers said: “Following advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and in the light of the most recent data, the UK Chief Medical Officers and NHS England National Medical Director agree that the UK alert level should move from level 4 to level 3.
“Thanks to the efforts of the UK public in social distancing and the impact we are starting to see from the vaccination programme, case numbers, deaths and Covid hospital pressures have fallen consistently.
“However Covid is still circulating with people catching and spreading the virus every day so we all need to continue to be vigilant.
“This remains a major pandemic globally.
“It is very important that we all continue to follow the guidance closely and everyone gets both doses of the vaccine when they are offered it.”
The announcement comes the day after the UK surpassed two-thirds of all adults having been given a first Covid jab, and one in three receiving the necessary second dose to provide full protection.
In total, over 35 million have now received some protection from Covid-19, with ministers committed to giving a first jab to all adults by the end of July.
The decision has been made by the scientists just hours before Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to give the go-ahead for the further easing of lockdown restrictions next Monday.
At a Downing Street press conference tonight, Mr Johnson will confirm indoor hospitality can re-open from May 17 with groups of up to 30 allowed to meet outdoors.
Guidelines on hugging are also set to be relaxed, with family members allowed to embrace for the first time since the start of the pandemic over a year ago.
Ahead of his announcement, the Prime Minister said: “The data reflects what we already knew – we are not going to let this virus beat us.
“The roadmap remains on track, our successful vaccination programme continues – more than two-thirds of adults in the UK have now had the first vaccine – and we can now look forward to unlocking cautiously but irreversibly.
“It’s because of the British public’s unwavering commitment that we are saving lives, protecting the NHS and controlling the virus.”
But, despite the positive news on the UK’s fight with coronavirus, David Nabarro, special envoy on Covid-19 for the World Health Organisation, said he would urge people to maintain social distancing and keep using face masks.
He told Sky News: “On the one hand we’ve got a dangerous virus, on the other hand we must get on with life because it just can’t go on with the restrictions that people have had up till now.
“Finding that middle path, how to live with this virus’s constant threat, is key.
“If I were able to talk to everybody personally over the coming weeks, I would say: You must restart life and everybody wants you to do that, but please be really careful, maintain that physical distance of between one metre and two metres, especially indoors, and don’t forget to wear your face masks because that really can give extra protection.
“It’s these simple things, but all done together that will really make the difference as to whether or not future spikes are huge or future spikes are small and easily contained.”
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