The UK is currently seeing major losses to it’s GDP, with the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) warning that the economy could shrink by 35 percent this spring.
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Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust and a World Health Organisation (WHO) expert, has shared his hopes that the pandemic was “probably past it’s peak.”
He hoped that lockdown can be gently lifted as the UK started to see the effects of social distancing, with the lowest daily death rate for a fortnight at 596.
He said to Sophy Ridge on Sky News: “The lockdown is damaging business and ultimately that is damaging all of our lives so the lockdowns can’t go on forever.”
“The damage it’s doing to all of our health, our wellbeing, our mental health, disproportionately affects the most vulnerable and the least able to cope with it in society, that’s a really big issue of inequality.”
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Sir Jeremy Farrar has warned the government to reopen the economy in the next four weeks. (Image: Getty Images)
Ministers have refused to set timetables for the lockdown’s end until transmission rates were analysed. (Image: PA)
Sir Farrar said that if the circulation of the virus in the community, hospitals and care homes was reduced “dramatically,” then he hoped lockdown could start to be eased “in three, four weeks’ time because it is clear that (it) can’t go on for much longer.”
He did warn that future waves of COVID-19 may occur if the measures were lifted too quickly.
Relaxing the disease management measures too early could see it “rebound very quickly within a few weeks or a couple of months.”
Currently the government has no clear timetable for exiting lockdown measures, which have been extended to May 7 where a second review will take place.
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Ministers have refused to set timetables for the lockdown’s end until transmission rates were analysed.
Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, said: “It is the case that we are looking at all of the evidence, but we have set some tests which need to be passed before we can think of easing restrictions in this lockdown.”
When asked when the UK’s testing and contact analysis capabilities would be good enough to make the call to end lockdown, Mr Gove wan’t able to answer.
He said: “I can’t give you a precise timetable.”
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UK Coronavirus cases as of Sunday 19 April (Image: Express)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has reportedly ordered aides to focus on avoiding a “second peak.”
Michael Gove is setting up a new unit to advise senior ministers on the economic and health impacts of the lockdown as the Government considers ways of easing it.
The government has also begun drawing up a three-phase plan to gradually end the lockdown, with the first measures set to come into effect in three weeks’ time.
The “traffic light” proposals, to be presented to Boris Johnson as soon as he returns to work, some shops where social distancing can be maintained could reopen early next month.
OBR have also warned that unemployment may soar to more than 2 million in spring due to the economic impact of coronavirus. (Image: PA)
OBR have also warned that unemployment may soar to more than 2 million in spring due to the economic impact of coronavirus.
The hit to living standards from the pandemics economic could be worse than the initial shock of the 2008 financial crisis.
OBR also said joblessness could hit 10% by the end of June and government borrowing this year would increase at the fastest pace since the second world war.
The UK has seen 120,067 confirmed cases of coronavirus with 16,060 deaths.