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16 April 2020

Daily briefing with Dominic Raab, Patrick Vallance, Chris Whitty – lockdown for at least 3 more weeks, five conditions for easing measures

Summary

Dominic Raab, Foreign Secretary, includes these key points in his statement, summarising government actions and advice. Raab chaired meetings with COBR and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE). 'There are indications that the measures we have put in place have been successful in slowing down the spread of the virus. But SAGE also says that it is a mixed and inconsistent picture and, in some settings, infections are still likely to be increasing. SAGE assesses that the rate of infection, or the R value, is almost certainly below 1 in the community. That means that on average each infected person is, in turn, infecting less than one other person.' [...] 'In sum, the very clear advice we have received is that any change to our social distancing measures now would risk a significant increase in the spread of the virus.' [...] 'I want to be clear about this. The advice from SAGE is that relaxing any of the measures currently in place would risk damage to both public health and our economy.' [...] 'Based on this advice, the government has determined that current measures must remain in place for at least the next 3 weeks.'

Dominic Raab outlines 'five specific things which the government will need to be satisfied of before we will consider it safe to adjust any of the current measures'. 'First, we must protect the NHS’s ability to cope.' [...] 'Second, we need to see a sustained and consistent fall in the daily death rates from coronavirus so we are confident that we have moved beyond the peak. Third, we need to have reliable data from SAGE showing that the rate of infection is decreasing to manageable levels across the board. Fourth, we need to be confident that the range of operational challenges, including testing capacity and personal protective equipment (PPE), are in hand, with supply able to meet future demand. Fifth, and this is really crucial, we need to be confident that any adjustments to the current measures will not risk a second peak of infections that overwhelm the NHS.' He also acknowledges how challenging things are for people – 'We get it. We know it's rough going.' But he says we need to stick together: 'It’s been an incredible national team effort. Now is not the moment to give the coronavirus a second chance. Let’s stick together, let’s see this through. And let’s defeat the coronavirus for good.'

Source(s)

Gov.uk speech

Gov.uk policy paper – slides and dataset