POLITICS
19/07/2020 10:44 BST | Updated 19/07/2020 13:11 BST

No Increase In Coronavirus Cases Since Lockdown Eased, Says UK’s National Statistician

But Professor Sir Ian Diamond warns people to remain "ever vigilant".

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The UK’s National Statistician has not noticed an increase in coronavirus cases since the lockdown measures were lifted.

Professor Sir Ian Diamond said the numbers had been “basically flat over the last few weeks” with currently around 1,700 new cases a day.

Speaking to Sky News’ Ridge on Sunday, Diamond was asked if he had noticed any uptick. “No we haven’t,” he said.

But the head of the Office for National Statistics said the public had to be “super careful” and follow the social distancing rules if this was to be maintained.

“Clearly over the autumn we will need to be ever vigilant,” he said.

Diamond also revealed 61% of the population had used face coverings in the last week, up from 50% the week before, and he expected this to continue to increase.

“What we are showing is that week on week there is an increase in the number of people who are using face coverings,” he said.

“But certainly people using face covering and it becoming the norm in many parts of society.” 

It came as Boris Johnson played down the prospect of a second national coronavirus lockdown.

The prime minister said the authorities were getting better at identifying and isolating local outbreaks, although it was important that the power to order national action was held in reserve.

“I can’t abandon that tool any more than I would abandon a nuclear deterrent. But it is like a nuclear deterrent, I certainly don’t want to use it. And nor do I think we will be in that position again,” he told The Sunday Telegraph.

His comments could lead to further tensions between ministers and their scientific experts after the chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance warned on Friday there was “a risk” that national measures could be needed as winter approaches.

Announcing another easing lockdown restrictions in England, Johnson on Friday said he hoped there could be a “significant return to normality” in time for Christmas.

At the same time, he said the government had given local authorities new powers to close specific premises, shut outdoor spaces and cancel events.