Virologist's insightful reaction to Health Secretary's coronavirus conference

3 April 2020, 18:18 | Updated: 3 April 2020, 18:24

By Fiona Jones

This is a chief virologist's instant and insightful reaction to today's coronavirus press conference.

Today's press conference had light and shade. Tragically a further 684 people have died from coronavirus in the UK, but on a positive note over 7,000 NHS workers have now been tested and two more NHS Nightingale hospitals are being built.

Dr Chris Smith noted that the critical question of when the UK might hit its peak is one no one wants to give a definitive answer on.

"If we view ourself as a couple of weeks behind Italy, probably looking at the middle of April before we hit peak virus. That'll be the time when the measures that have been introduced, which include the lockdown that we're currently in, that's when we're going to see that really begin to bite."

He said if all goes to plan after this time we should see the number of admissions to hospital and deaths "abruptly begin to fall."

Dr Chris reflected that the government need to produce more tests and have "made a bed for themselves to lie on by stating this very ambitious 100,000 number", referring to Matt Hancock's aim to test 100,000 people a day by the end of April.

He continued that the Health Secretary has also "muddied the water" by being unclear about which tests he is referring to and "mixing all the numbers up."

"We need about 25,000 tests a day to be done and that's to test if people have the virus right now to service our current need to manage patients effectively and manage our health workers effectively," he said.

Dr Chris branded the government's strategy as a "reasonable" one but he found it surprising that apparently 17.5 million tests have been bought that we "still don't have."

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