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Oxford professor: We’ve got to be brave now to come out of lockdown

Oxford professor: We’ve got to be brave now to come out of lockdown
Carl Heneghan
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As those who have been keeping a close eye on the number of daily coronavirus cases and deaths in the UK can attest, it appears that good news may be on the horizon. Over the past few days the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 has begun to show signs of plateauing, while the number of daily reported UK deaths (which does not include deaths outside hospitals) has been steadily reducing.

The positive signs suggest the worst may be over and the virus has peaked. Some are now suggesting it’s time to seriously consider leaving the lockdown – and fast. Speaking on Newsnight last night, Carl Heneghan, professor of evidence-based medicine at Oxford University, suggested that in some parts of the country, like London, ‘the major outbreak’ of the disease had already occurred before the lockdown was even put in place. He believes infections were at their highest around mid-March – 21 days before the country recorded its worst day for deaths on April 8. Heneghan says infections dropped by 50 per cent between March 16 and the lockdown on March 24 thanks to a hand washing and social distancing drive.

Now he’s calling for the lockdown to end ‘as quick as we went in’. Based on hospital data, Heneghan believes:

‘By Friday there should be sufficient confidence to have a three phased plan. One is to have a staged move into work – into opening up society. The second is to have test and isolation for those who still have symptoms and might have Covid. And then number three is critical: we need a clear plan for hospitals and nursing homes. PPE has to be perfect so that these people don’t see onward transmission.’

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However, with ongoing PPE supply issues and doubts that Matt Hancock will reach his 100,000 testing target, Mr S suspects that phased plan may be easier said than done...

Written bySteerpike

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to steerpike@spectator.co.uk.

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