The number of coronavirus cases in the UK “could be a step in the right direction,” said the government’s chief scientific adviser.
Speaking at the daily Downing Street briefing, Sir Patrick Vallance said it was “possible that we would start to see … the curve flattening out.”
He added, however, that it would take another “week” to be certain.
The Secretary of Foreign Affairs, meanwhile, said that the PM, who is in intensive care, is “in a good mood” and “stable”.
It happens as the number of coronavirus hospital deaths in the UK rose to 6,159 – a record increase of 786 in one day, the Department of Health and Welfare said, against 439 on Monday.
So far, 55,242 people have tested positive in the UK – an increase of 3,634 from Monday’s figures.
Speaking of the number of new cases, Sir Patrick said: “It is possible that we are starting to see the beginning of a change in terms of the curve flattening out a bit.
“We won’t know for about a week. But what we don’t see is an acceleration. “
Sir Patrick stressed that it was important to continue social distancing measures to ensure a reduction in the number of new cases.
Today’s figures are a record high and bring the death toll currently reported to over 6,000 for the first time. The increase of 786 is higher than the previous peak of 708 deaths recorded on Saturday in a single day.
We also know that this figure does not include deaths that have occurred but have yet to be reported, so the true number of deaths at this point is likely to be higher.
If there is a silver lining to these sinister numbers, it is that they represent the fourth consecutive day of growth below trend.
For weeks and until Friday, the death toll had doubled every three and a half days. If this trend had continued, we would have seen nearly 1,400 deaths today.
The 786 is therefore better than that, although it is still too early to know what is causing it. This could be a big bottleneck in reports (we’ve seen this after the previous weekends) or real proof that growth is really slowing down.
More fortunately, for almost a week, new daily cases have remained at around 4,000 per day, suggesting that, while we are still seeing it, the growth in this number may be stalled.
Asked whether the current foreclosure measures would be extended, Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said the government would make a decision when “the time is right” but “we are not there yet” .
He said that social distancing measures “help” and that people should continue to adhere to them over the Easter weekend.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs also issued a brief statement on Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Johnson was admitted to St Thomas Hospital in central London with “persistent symptoms” from Covid-19 on Sunday and was transferred to intensive care on Monday evening after his symptoms worsened.
Raab, who replaces Johnson, said the PM was receiving “standard oxygen treatment” and had not been on a ventilator.
“For all of us in cabinet, he is not only our boss – he is also a colleague and he is also our friend,” he said.
He added: “I am sure he will get by because if there is one thing I know about this Prime Minister, it is that he is a fighter and that he will come back to guide us through this crisis in a short time.
As First Secretary of State, Mr. Raab is the minister designated to replace Mr. Johnson if he is ill and unable to work.
Subsequently, Sir Patrick said that he could not guarantee that there would be enough beds in the intensive care units (ICU) in each hospital throughout the epidemic.
However, in terms of demand, he said “that there should not be an overall increase above the number of beds available” across the NHS.
“The NHS has done an incredible job in increasing the overall capacity of the ICU and so things seem to be going in the right direction,” he said.