The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire)
Normal life will not resume for six months, warns government doctor
Normal life will not resume for at least six months, a key UK medical official has said, as the government placed all parts of the UK on an “emergency footing”.
Dr Jenny Harries, deputy chief medical officer for England, said the nation will not be in “complete lockdown” for half a year but said social distancing measures will be lifted gradually.
Her warning at yesterday’s UK coronavirus press conference came as the NHS announced the first confirmed death of a frontline hospital worker with Covid-19.
Cabinet minister Robert Jenrick said “we simply cannot” ask health workers to go on to the frontline without adequate protective equipment, as he announced the emergency footing was an “unprecedented step in peacetime”.
Dr Harries said the three-week reviews on the measures to slow the disease’s spread will likely continue for six months and that their success would be judged on slowing its rate.
“But we must not then suddenly revert to our normal way of living, that would be quite dangerous,” she said.”
A sudden lifting could see the nation’s sacrifices “wasted” with another spike in deaths, which have reached 1,228.
“We need to keep that lid on and then gradually we will be able to hopefully adjust some of the social distancing measures and gradually get us all back to normal,” she said.
“Three weeks for review, two or three months to see if we’ve really squashed it, but three to six months, ideally, but lots of uncertainty in that but then to see at which point we can actually get back to normal and it is plausible it could go further than that.”
Communities Secretary Mr Jenrick announced that the emergency footing was now raised in all parts of the country, adding: “This means that we are establishing strategic coordination centres across the whole country.”
Each would be led by gold commanders and have members of the armed forces embedded in them.
The NHS announced the death of 55-year-old consultant Amged ElHawrani amid concerns staff do not have sufficient personal protective equipment. The ear, nose and throat surgeon at Queen’s Hospital Burton in the Midlands died on Saturday. It was the second biggest day-on-day rise, however it was smaller than the 260 increase reported the day before.