Government coronavirus plan 'is working' but it's too early to relax lockdown, Raab says

14 April 2020, 08:27

Dominic Raab made the comments at a Downing Street briefing
Dominic Raab made the comments at a Downing Street briefing. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

The UK is "starting to win" the battle against Covid-19 but the countrywide lockdown will not be lifted this week.

Dominic Raab has insisted Government plans to tackle the coronavirus pandemic "is working" three weeks after Boris Johnson imposed restrictions.

But he insisted the virus was not yet past its peak and that it was "far too early" to talk about relaxing the measures, with reports suggesting the lockdown will be extended for at least another three weeks.

But one expert has warned the public will need to hear how the Government plans to help halt the lockdown.

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Details of the UK's exit strategy from the lockdown are currently unclear after the Government repeatedly refused to outline its plans for ending the measures.

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The Government's scientific advisers are expected to meet this week to review the latest figures, but Mr Raab insisted it was crucial that "we do not take our eye off the ball" with regards to social distancing.

The news comes as the World Health Organisation said restrictions should be lifted slowly and not "all at once" to avoid a resurgence of the virus, and only if appropriate measures are in place, including "significant" capacity for contact tracing.

But experts have also warned that the public's strong support to stick to the lockdown measures "won't last" and the Government needs to find a way to tell the nation about how it will be eased.

Professor Linda Bauld, of the University of Edinburgh, said the public was now steeling itself for a continuation of the lockdown, amid an atmosphere where support for the measures remains high, compliance is generally good and concern about the virus is at the forefront of people's minds.

"But this won't last," she warned.

"The social, economic and health effects of lockdown are accumulating.

"There will come a tipping point when the cost of the current restrictions outweighs the benefits."

She added: "Sooner rather than later, government needs to share the possible options with the public and be transparent about the costs and benefits of each, rather than continually evading questions on this, as is currently the case."

The Government has also faced criticism over whether more lives could have been saved if the lockdown had been implemented earlier, as the Department for Health said 11,329 people had died in hospitals in the UK as of 5pm on Sunday, with many more expected in care homes.

It means the UK has more recorded deaths than any country except the US, Italy, Spain and France.

But Mr Raab rejected any "like-for-like" comparison with other countries, saying it depended on each nation's individual circumstances and how far along the coronavirus outbreak curve they were.

The Government also continues to face pressure over shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline NHS staff, as a growing number of health workers died.

According to The Guardian, the UK missed three chances to be part of an EU scheme to bulk buy personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers, with European medical staff set to receive the first of £1.3 billion-worth of PPE within days or a maximum of two weeks under the scheme.