Coronavirus: Expert warns of 'concerning' increase in road traffic despite lockdown

1 April 2020, 19:43

Yvonne Doyle answering questions from the media via a video link during a media briefing in Downing Street
Yvonne Doyle answering questions from the media via a video link during a media briefing in Downing Street. Picture: PA

By Matt Drake

A leading health expert has expressed concern at an increase in road traffic despite coronavirus travel restrictions remaining in place.

Latest Department for Transport figures show that vehicle use increased on Monday.

By Sunday, use of motor vehicles had fallen by 73 per cent compared with February 27.

But a spike in traffic led to Monday's figure showing just a 63 per cent decline compared with the same date.

This was the first daily rise in two weeks.

Yvonne Doyle, director of health protection for Public Health England, said: "This shows a slightly concerning trend, because we have seen an uptick in motor vehicle traffic.

"The message here is really people do need to stay at home.

"Most are doing the right thing, as you can see from the rapid decline in public transport use.

"Everyone needs to do that.

"The message here is we need to save lives and protect the NHS, so please stay at home."

More motor vehicle journeys may have taken place on Monday compared with the previous two days due to it being a working day.

READ MORE: Follow the latest coronavirus developments LIVE

Tube and bus use also rose on Monday, but mainline rail journeys declined.

It comes as 2,352 patients in the UK have died after testing positive of coronavirus.

Prof Doyle told the Number 10 daily press briefing that 10,000 tests per day were now being carried out and the aim was to get to 25,000 tests by mid-April.

She said the intention was to "get from thousands to hundreds of thousands" of tests for frontline workers in the coming weeks.

PHE has also come under fire over wider testing of members of the public with Covid-19.

It has said repeatedly that most adults who develop symptoms will fully recover and do not need to be tested.

However, many scientists disagree and say it is only through widespread community testing that the UK will be able to track the virus and emerge from lockdown.

Prof Doyle told reporters there was an intention to scale up this sort of testing.

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