The UK must maintain a “significant level” of social distancing until a vaccine against the coronavirus is found, said a scientist informing the government.
Professor Neil Ferguson told the BBC that there was “little leeway” to relax measures without “something … in their place” – such as testing and contact tracing.
A three-week extension of the lockdown should be announced later.
The Labor Party has said it will support an extension, but has asked for details on when and how the lockdown will end.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson introduced strict restrictions on life in the United Kingdom on March 23 as the government sought to limit the spread of the virus.
Ministers are required by law to assess whether the rules work, based on expert advice, every three weeks.
The government – led by Foreign Minister Dominic Raab as Mr. Johnson continues to recover from the virus – will later detail the results of the first assessment at the daily press conference.
Meanwhile, more than nine in 10 people who die with a coronavirus have an underlying health problem, according to an analysis by the Office of National Statistics.
According to the latest figures, which only include deaths in hospital, 12,868 patients died after being tested positive for the virus in the UK.
“No return to normal”
Speaking to the BBC Radio 4 Today program, Professor Ferguson of Imperial College London said that easing the lock-in after three more weeks would depend on “how quickly the caseload decreases.”
He said it required “a determined focus” within government and the health system on “scaling up testing and building the capacity to track cases in the community and find contacts.”
Professor Ferguson added: “Without that, our estimates show that we have relatively little latitude; if we relax the measures too much, we will see a resurgence of transmission.
“What we really need is to be able to put something in their place. If we want to open schools, let people go back to work, we have to reduce transmission in another way.
“And I have to say that it’s not going to return to normal. We will have to maintain a certain level of social distancing, a significant level of social distancing, probably indefinitely until we have a vaccine available. “
Professor Ferguson said he believed “the daily number of infections peaked two weeks ago”, but that it was “too early to relax.”
Asked if the government is moving towards a lock-out strategy, Professor Ferguson said he would like to see “accelerated action” and called for more infrastructure.
“I remember the fact that we had a Brexit department for the government – it was a major national emergency, so to speak – and we are faced with something that is, for the moment, even bigger than Brexit and yet I don’t see the same evidence for this level of organization, “he said.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said today that Professor Ferguson did not see such action behind the scenes in government “because he is advising the government, he is not in the government.”
He said the ministers “would not be distracted” to confuse his “basic” message of staying at home and protecting the NHS.
“The way we communicate as a government has a direct impact on the number of cases we have and therefore the number of people who have died,” said Hancock.
“We are talking about what is needed now and when we need to change that, we will do it. “
Earlier, the health secretary told BBC Breakfast that he thought the government had been clear “we think it is too early to make a change.”
Hancock said he did not want to waste the “good effort” of the public by ending the lockdown too soon, adding that the immediate release of all measures would let the virus “spread”.
His comments come after UK chief medical adviser Professor Chris Whitty warned of a possible “rebound” in the figures due to delays in reporting deaths over the weekend. Easter.
The health secretary is scheduled to meet with the prime ministers of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales later before making an official decision on the foreclosure.
There is every indication that the UK is reaching the peak of coronavirus cases. The number of patients hospitalized with a coronavirus seems to be stabilizing.
There are more than 10,000 beds available in general services and another 2,000 places in intensive care.
It was this margin that prompted NHS providers, who represent hospital managers, to declare this week that they were “more and more” confident that the health service could cope.
But government advisers will no doubt advise ministers that the lockdown should continue – as they fear that lifting restrictions at this point could cancel good work and see an increase in the number of cases that would gobble up this unused capacity and would overwhelm health services. .
Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth told BBC Breakfast Labor that he would support an extension.
But he asked the government to clarify “what will happen next” and move to a “test and contact tracing strategy” to break the deadlock.
The ministers of Scotland and Wales have already said their closings should remain in place, while Northern Ireland Arlene Foster has confirmed that the closure of NI will be extended until May 9.
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