Britain could be in lockdown for up to SIX MONTHS to prevent a second wave of coronavirus cases, senior health chief warns amid claims the UK’s crisis could peak by Easter.
A senior UK health chief said the country could be in lockdown for another six months in order to prevent the coronavirus coming back.
Deputy chief medical officer, Dr Jenny Harries, said some, but not all, of the dramatic measures imposed this week could last until September.
It comes as one of the government’s top coronavirus advisors admitted the UK’s epidemic will get worse before it gets better but the peak of it could pass by Easter.
Professor Neil Ferguson said that if the current nationwide lockdown works, the demand on intensive care units should peak within two or three weeks.
The virus expert, from Imperial College London, was one of the authors behind a study which may have saved Britain after warning the Government its plan could kill thousands of people. He later caught the virus himself and recovered.
He now says he believes the NHS will be able to cope with the outbreak thanks to the stay-at-home measures that were put in place this week.
Despite fears over a lack of intensive care beds and staff going off sick, Professor Ferguson yesterday told MPs that he is confident the health service will remain ‘within capacity’ and that strain would ‘peak in approximately two to three weeks and then decline thereafter’.
But the CEO of NHS Providers, which represents hospitals around the country, warned medics are already facing a ‘continuous tsunami’ of patients and that the ‘explosion’ of cases was bigger than they had expected.
Dr Jenny Harries agreed yesterday that she hoped the worst of the outbreak could be done by Easter.
This could mean the UK faces its darkest days in the next two weeks but suggests there is light at the end of the tunnel and normality could begin to return in summer.
It chimes with predictions made earlier this month by one disease expert who predicted Easter would mark the height of the first wave and the virus would return in the autumn.
Dr Harries said on BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour that the Government did not want people to have to change their lifestyles for an unnecessarily long time.
But, she added: ‘We don’t want to lift those measures [too soon] and find that we have a sudden upsurge and our efforts will have been wasted.
‘Overall we are looking at a scenario of over a six-month period but not necessarily with a lock down of this level going on throughout that time.
‘We are likely able to raise some of the measures as we go forward and keep in a very controlled pattern.’
Her comments come after she said in a Q&A on Mumsnet yesterday that the current surging numbers of cases should have come under control by Easter, which falls on the weekend of April 10.
She said: ‘What we hope is that in about two to three weeks, if people have continued to do as we have asked, and cut down their social interactions, we would start to see a change in the slop’e of the graph,’ The Telegraph reported.
‘That means the peak will be pushed forward, but the height of it will be lower and we can manage all those who need hospital and health care safely through our NHS.’
Dr Harries’ comments suggest the fast increase in new daily coronavirus patients, which is happening now, could start to plateau as the spread of it is slowed by people staying at home.
In the past week at least 6,903 new cases of the coronavirus have been diagnosed in the UK.
By comparison, the week before saw 2,170.
Because almost all the tests are being done in hospitals the majority of these people are needing medical care and rapid increases put extra strain on the hospitals.
Reducing the number of new cases each week – even if it means the overall number is bigger in the long run – will make it easier for the NHS to cope, and this is what the Government is trying to achieve by forcing people to stay at home.
But there is still a backlog of already-infected people that will descend on hospitals in the coming days.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Professor Neil Ferguson said: ‘London is going to be very difficult in the next two to three weeks.
Source: Daily Mail. Read more here.