WATCH: Lockdown restrictions unlikely to be eased region by region, government says
PUBLISHED: 19:42 15 April 2020 | UPDATED: 20:37 15 April 2020
Ministers’ plans to ease the UK’s lockdown restrictions could see measures relaxed across the country at the same time, rather than staggered by different areas.
Regions of the UK are expected to hit the peak of the virus along the same curve, say the scientists advising the government on its response to the Covid-19 outbreak.
It comes as the UK’s death toll reached 12,868 - an increase of 761 since Tuesday (April 14) - with a total of 98,476 cases of the virus confirmed across the country, and 4,605 new confirmed cases.
Seven more people have also died at two Norfolk hospitals after being diagnosed with coronavirus, which brings the county’s total deaths - inside hospitals - to 133.
When asked by this newspaper whether the lockdown could be relaxed on a regional basis, Professor Dame Angela MacLean, deputy chief scientific advisor, said she did not believe regions outside of London would take longer than the capital to see deaths trend downward.
Speaking at the government’s daily briefing on the Covid-19 crisis on April 15, Dame Angela said scientists had expected to see the disease hit London harder ahead of the UK’s regions “mostly on the way up” and that lockdown measures had sparked national behaviour change.
“What we would expect to happen is that the peak would be at the same time across the country and that’s because the way we changed our behaviour as a country was largely the same everywhere,” she said.
“Whilst we always said London was two weeks ahead, what we meant was really London was two weeks ahead on the way up.”
Dame Angela also said that while hospital admissions were starting to fall in London faster than in other regions there was too much variety in the data to say that this meant the capital was ahead of the rest of the country in flattening the curve.
She said: “In terms of starting to flatten and then go down, while we really expected everywhere to be the same that’s not really what we’re seeing, in that the number of people in hospital beds in London fell by 5pc yesterday but across the country it was 1pc. We had long discussions about that and decided there’s so much variation we don’t have a clear answer for the differences yet.
“It’s quite possible that we are seeing what we would expect - which is that the flattening off is pretty similar in different places.
“One of the reasons people in hospital beds in London seems to be falling faster is perhaps because cases rose faster here people responded to all the earlier bits of advice about staying away faster.”
Health secretary praises coverage of five-month-old’s coronavirus recovery
The health secretary has praised the coverage of the recovery of a five-month-old baby who was hospitalised with coronavirus.
Matt Hancock, Conservative MP for West Suffolk, told viewers of the government’s daily coronavirus briefing that he was missing visits to his constituency in the East of England, where little Amelia Woodger, from Brandon, was rushed to West Suffolk Hospital on April 4 - before being discharged to continue her recovery at home.
The minister of state for health and social care said: “One of the things I’m missing most about this lockdown is getting to Suffolk where the Eastern Daily Press covers - which is my constituency as well.
“And it was wonderful to see on the front page of the newspaper this week a baby from Brandon, in Suffolk, in my constituency who recovered at the West Suffolk hospital and is now home and safe and well, which I know was well covered in the EDP as well.”
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