It is too early to consider how the UK will exit the current coronavirus lockdown, foreign secretary Dominic Raab said today.
Raab, who led the government’s briefing following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s admission to hospital last night, said current measures were “beginning to work”, but refused to discuss how or when they would be eased.
“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,” he said.
Announcing the lockdown measures two weeks ago, Johnson said the restrictions would be reviewed again in three weeks.
But chief medical officer Chris Whitty, who attended the daily briefing for the first time since recovering from coronavirus himself, said it would be a “mistake” to discuss an easing of the rules until it was certain the peak of the epidemic had passed.
“The key thing is to get to the point where we are confident we have reached the peak, and that this is now beyond the peak,” he said.
“At that point, I think it will be 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.”
Deputy chief scientific adviser Dame Angela McLean also said more time was needed to assess how well social distancing measures were working.
“We need people to carry on following those instructions so we can work out, three weeks later, what actually happens in hospitals,” she said.
“We need to know how well the current restrictions are working before we can say anything sensible about what the next stage might be.”
The UK death toll from coronavirus has risen past 5,000, but the daily rate of growth slowed for the second consecutive day today.