Lockdown exit strategy: Raab outlines FIVE-POINT criteria for the end | UK | News

First Secretary Dominic Raab has confirmed the UK-wide lockdown will be extended for another three weeks. He confirms the number of deaths in the UK of those hospitalised with coronavirus has now reached 13,729.

Dominic Raab said he wanted to be up front about when the government can relax measures.

He lists five points that will influence the Government’s decision:

  • Making sure the NHS can cope
  • Evidence showing a sustained and consistent fall in daily death rates
  • Reliable data showing the rate of infection is decreasing to manageable levels
  • Being confident in the range of operational challenges, like ensuring testing and the right amount of PPE, are in hand
  • Being confident any adjustments will not risk a second peak

The UK is already arriving at the point where daily deaths are beginning to fall, however there is still some way to go until the rest of the criteria are met. 

The reorientation of the NHS towards handling the COVID-19 outbreak means the health service is currently coping.

Mr Raab said there were still “issues with the virus spreading in some hospitals and in care homes”.

He added: “The very clear advice we received is that any change to our social distancing measures now would risk a significant increase in the spread of the virus.

“That would threaten a second peak of the virus and substantially increase the number of deaths.

“It would undo the progress we have made to date and as a result would require an even longer period of the more restrictive social distancing measures.”

Asked by the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg about when the public can see the end of lockdown regulations, Mr Raab refered to comments made by Boris Johnson at the beginning of the outbreak, saying this stage should last for three months.

He said revealing plans for an exit strategy from social distancing measures may prejudice the evidence.

“That is broadly still the outline [and] it will be reviewed at the end of the month,” he says.

But he added it would be “irresponsible” to give a definitive timeframe and could “prejudice the evidence” being collected.

“There is light at the end of the tunnel, there is progress, and we must keep up.”

“We have got to keep this up,” says the foreign secretary. “What you are doing is working, notwithstanding the death toll – tragic for so many people.

“But if we let up now, it will be damaging for public health and the economy.”

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Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK’s Chief Scientific Advisor, said that once the number of people carrying coronavirus has reduced, the Government could consider which of the lockdown measures to ease.

Responding to a question about whether the elderly will be the last to rejoin society, he said: “The aim there is to try and do that in a way that allows everything to start moving more towards normal – not to segregate on certain groups and say there is a differential approach towards this.

“It may be necessary when you look at different jobs and different things to think about how you do that in a way that is safe, but the aim, certainly in terms of how we are doing this from a scientific angle, is to understand the basic principles that reduce transmission and allow the policy makers to take those basic principles and apply them in a number of different settings.”

England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said that developing an effective serology test was important in establishing what proportion of the population had been infected as well as finding a vaccine.

He said there were “substantial bodies of work” going on among the academic sector, commercial suppliers and Public Health England as well as Government laboratories at Porton Down to find one.

He said they did not have a serology test they could have a lot of reliance on although it could give a “ranging shot”.

“We do expect to have quite crude early data. That definitely needs to be improved on,” he said.

“We are moving very fast in this area scientifically, but we are definitely not there in either of the issues of getting a serology (test) or getting a sampling frame, but we will probably have a crude ranging shot soon.”

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