Robert Peston

Have we reached the peak?

Have we reached the peak?
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At the risk of breaching lockdown etiquette, I feel it would be remiss not to mention that the stats on Covid-19 infections, hospital admissions and deaths have been stable or falling for around a fortnight.

Since 5 April, there have been many more tests for coronavirus carried out, but numbers testing positive have been falling, which is significant.

Also, today's reported deaths of 449 are considerably fewer than half the peak of 10 days ago – and although we all know the daily reported total of deaths is less than the actual total, and that there is often a dip after a weekend, that trend is like-for-like, so it is relevant.

Finally, numbers in hospital have fallen a remarkable 40 per cent in London over the past 11 days and although there has been an upward shift in the rest of the country, latterly hospital bed occupancy has been stable almost everywhere.

Of course, this does not mean the threat of coronavirus has gone. It remains a real and present danger to all. But the severe restrictions on our basic freedoms have yielded a very important result, namely that the rate of illness has been suppressed and the NHS has coped far better than many feared.

The big question now, which is a live question (even though some in government seem to wish it was not), is how to adjust lockdown, how to modify (not annul!) the constraints on our freedom of movement, to reduce the depth of the economic depression, lessen pressures on our mental and emotional wellbeing, and educate our children, without risking a devastating second wave of infections.

Despite government rhetoric to the contrary, I am assuming we will begin to see the outline of a plan to adjust the lockdown.

But if, for example, some non-food or non-pharma shops are allowed to re-open before too long, we'll have to use them in a way that keeps us the requisite two metres apart.

And mask-wearing is definitely on the way, in limited, specified social settings (such as on public transport), not to protect the mask wearer but to protect others from being infected by those walking around who have the virus but are not showing obvious symptoms.

PS We could even begin to get ministerial nods towards lockdown changes after the weekend.

Written byRobert Peston

Robert Peston is Political Editor of ITV News and host of the weekly political discussion show Peston. This post originally appeared on his ITV News blog

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