Social distancing is now ‘new normal’ with no end in sight – latest coronavirus warning

New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian insisted we “have to be honest with ourselves”, adding there is “no simple way” to deal with the outbreak. She said: “That is the new normal. Not having physical contact, socially distancing is, at the very minimum, a way of life for us.

“Because we have to be honest with ourselves – until a vaccine is found, there is no simple way to deal with this issue.”

Ms Berejiklian’s comments come as questions were raised about whether a decision on lifting the UK’s lockdown restrictions would be delayed while the Prime Minister is in hospital with coronavirus.

Boris Johnson was moved to intensive care on Monday evening after being admitted to to St Thomas’ hospital in London on Sunday.

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove said the decision would not be delayed.

He told Good Morning Britain: “It will be the case that we will take that decision collectively as a Cabinet.

“The person who will chair that Cabinet, the person who will make the final decision of course is, as I mentioned earlier, the Foreign Secretary.

“But I think it’s important to recognise, yeah lockdown is painful, it’s difficult.

“It’s particularly difficult if you’re living in circumstances where you don’t have easy access to green space, you’ve maybe got children at home.

“I don’t underestimate how difficult it is, but the Prime Minister’s condition is a terrible and sad reminder of the fact that this disease spreads rapidly, and has a virulence which is frightening.

“So that’s one of the reasons we have this lockdown, so we can slow the spread of the disease and strengthen the NHS.”

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England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said it would be a “mistake” to discuss the UK’s exit strategy from the lockdown because the number of cases has not yet reached its peak.

Speaking during Monday’s Downing Street press conference, 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.”

Professor Dame Angela McLean, the Ministry of Defence’s chief scientific adviser, added that decisions could only be made once data had been collected.

She 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.

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

Asked whether easing the measures could be staggered by region or by type of person, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “Obviously we’re very mindful of the challenges businesses are facing, small businesses, all employers and of course the workforce as well.

“But the risk is if we start taking our eye off the ball, of tackling the coronavirus, stopping the spread and getting through the peak, we risk delaying the point at which we could in the future take those decisions on easing restrictions.

“So it is really important right now to keep the over-riding focus on maintaining the discipline that we’ve had, keeping adherence to the guidelines that the Government has set out and making sure that we stop the spread of coronavirus.”

It comes as there have been 55,242 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the UK, with the death toll at 6,159.

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