Dr. Jenny Harries says Britain could see lockdown extended through summer
A senior UK health chief has warned that the country’s lockdown could be extended for another six months in order to prevent a “second wave” of the coronavirus coming back.
Dr. Jenny Harries, the British deputy chief medical officer, says some of the dramatic lockdown measures, but not all, 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.
On Friday morning, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also confirmed he has tested positive for COVID-19.
“Over the last 24 hours I have developed mild symptoms and tested positive for coronavirus,” Johnson tweeted.
“I am now self-isolating, but I will continue to lead the government’s response via video-conference as we fight this virus,” the PM added.
Professor Neil Ferguson said that if the current nationwide lockdown works, the demand for 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 that 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, Prof. Ferguson told MPs Wednesday 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 lockdown 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.”