Lincolnshire health chief: 'Lockdown extension was only option'
There was no option but to extend lockdown restrictions for another three weeks, Lincolnshire’s public health chief said.
Professor Derek Ward said the government now needs to decide when it would be safe to lift the measures and plan to prevent a second peak.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab confirmed the extension yesterday (April 16) which will now keep restrictions in place until May.
Professor Ward said officials now needed to consider when and how the measures will be eased.
“I could not see any other way forward at this point on extending lockdown,” he said.
“The government now needs to consider at what point do we get to come out, why and how do we do that at the risk of a second wave of infection.”
He added that the risk of another wave of the virus was “very high” both globally and locally.
“It will stay very high because the vast majority have not been exposed to Covid-19,” said Professor Ward.
“It is important to take a step back, we have done a really good job in Lincolnshire [to prevent spread].
“But that is one of the risks, it will not take long for the virus to take a hold again.”
The restrictions were first announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is recovering from coronavirus at Chequers, on March 23.
The measures will now remain in place until at least May 7.
Mr Raab said there was indications that the lockdown was working, but that the data was “mixed and inconsistent”
“We still do not have the infection rate down as far as we need to,” he said.
He set out five conditions that would need to be met to relax the lockdown.
- Ensure that the NHS can cope across the UK
- See a sustained and consistent fall in the daily death rate
- Have reliable evidence that the rate of infection is decreasing to “manageable levels”
- Make sure there is enough testing and protective equipment to meet demand
- Have confidence that lifting lockdown will not risk a second peak which will overwhelm the NHS.
It comes as the UK death toll reached 13,729 and the case numbers increased to 103,093.