United Kingdom has been hit by the coronavirus pandemic hard, and country could remain under emergency measures for as long as six months, a top health official has said.
On the other hand, other expert claims there were early signs that the outbreak was slowing in Britain. Nevertheless, lockdown could remain in Great Britain for another six months.
Curbs on normal life may need to continue through the summer and into the autumn in order to avoid progress being “wasted,” England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jenny Harries said on Sunday.
Harries suggested that while lockdown rules imposed last week could be relaxed once the curve of cases begins to flatten, strict social distancing guidelines will likely remain in place.
But a prominent epidemiologist sounded a note of cautious optimism on Monday, suggesting that there were some early signs that the lockdown measures were working.
Neil Ferguson, a professor of mathematical biology at Imperial College London whose modeling has influenced UK government policy, told BBC Radio on Monday that he believes “the epidemic is just about slowing in the UK right now.”
He pointed to a slight slowdown in the rate of increase in hospital admissions as evidence. “It is the result of the actions people have taken and governments have taken,” Ferguson said, adding that admissions had not yet plateaued and that the trend is not yet reflected in daily death tolls.
“We’re critically missing direct data in the number of infections,” he added. The UK has tested just under 130,000 people but the true number of people who have contracted Covid-19 is believed to be far higher.
“We think maybe a third, maybe even 40% of people don’t get any symptoms,” Ferguson said, predicting that around 2 to 3% of people in the UK may have been infected, he added.