‘Lockdown could last into June’ - Coronavirus expert answers our key questions

Prof Paul Hunter of the UEA's Norwich medical school has answered questions about coronavirus. Photo

Prof Paul Hunter of the UEA's Norwich medical school has answered questions about coronavirus. Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Archant © 2013

Paul Hunter, a professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia, has shared his expertise on coronavirus and answered key questions about the pandemic.

Q: It has been suggested the UK’s social distancing may be working already and the number of Covid-19 cases is now falling. What do you think?

A: “One of the first things I learnt about epidemics is that you don’t make statements like that on a Monday because on the weekend all sorts of things can conspire to make it more difficult. For example, people typically take the weekend off work. You see in every single infectious disease that there is a dip of reports on a weekend.

“But we’re not yet in my view seeing a decline and any talk of a decline at the beginning of the week is significantly misjudged.”

Q: When will we see a decline in cases?

A dummy COVID-19 swab is handled inside a sealed sterile tube during a demonstration by lab technici

A dummy COVID-19 swab is handled inside a sealed sterile tube during a demonstration by lab technicians who are carrying out diagnostic tests for coronavirus. Picture: Ben Birchall/PA Wire - Credit: PA


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A: “It is quite plausible we will see a more acceptable decline in new cases by Friday. This is not based on death rates, which follow behind one to two weeks, but case numbers.

“This would also fit to the timescale and experience seen in Italy. I hope that we see a reduction in new cases by the end of the week and if we don’t something is going quite wrong.”

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Q: How long do you think this form of lockdown will last?

A: “The simple answer is I don’t know. But in my personal view, based on years of experience, I think this degree of containment will last until end of May and early into June.