Life in locked-down UK may not return to normal for 6 months: Official
LONDON : Life in locked-down Britain may not return to normal for six months or longer as it battles the coronavirus outbreak, a top health official warned on Sunday, as the death toll passed 1,200.
Deputy chief medical officer Jenny Harries said it would take two or three weeks to assess the impact of the current rules for people to stay at home wherever possible to limit the spread of Covid-19.
"If we are successful, we will have squashed the top of that (infection) curve, which is brilliant," she told the government's daily news conference.
"But we must not then suddenly revert to our normal way of living - that would be quite dangerous. If we stop then, all of our efforts would be wasted and we could potentially see a second peak."
She said measures to contain the virus would be reviewed every three weeks, "probably over the next six months" or even longer - but stressed that did not necessarily mean a full lockdown for that long.
"Gradually we will be able to hopefully adjust some of the social distancing measures and gradually get us all back to normal," Ms Harries said.
Britain has been on lockdown for a week, with non-essential shops and services closed and people told to stay at home except for daily exercise, to get groceries or help vulnerable people.
The measure was introduced amid fears the virus was spreading more rapidly than expected.
New figures on Sunday revealed that 1,228 people with coronavirus have now died in Britain - an increase of 209 on the previous 24 hours.
Professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London, one of the epidemiologists advising the government, told the Sunday Times he believed the lockdown could last until "the end of May, maybe even early June".
But he did say that the outbreak is showing signs of slowing and antibody tests could be ready in days.
"We think the epidemic is just about slowing in the UK right now," Prof Ferguson told BBC radio, adding that a third or even 40 per cent of people do not get any symptoms.
He said perhaps 2 per cent to 3 per cent of the Britain's population had been infected.
But he cautioned that the data was not good enough to make firm extrapolations. - AFP, REUTERS