Ending Lockdown In February Would Be A 'Disaster', Expert Warns

Lifting restrictions would put "enormous pressure" on an already-struggling NHS.

Removing coronavirus restrictions at the end of February would be a “disaster”, a leading epidemiologist has warned.

Professor John Edmunds, who works on the government’s coronavirus response as part of the scientific advisory group for emergencies (Sage), also said the scaling back of a national lockdown would put “enormous pressure” on the NHS.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Saturday: “I think it would be a disaster if we removed restrictions in, say, the end of February when we have gone through this first wave of the vaccination.

“First of all vaccines aren’t ever 100% protective, and so even those that have been vaccinated would be still at some risk.

“Secondly, it is only a small fraction of the population who would have been vaccinated and if you look at the hospitalisations at the moment, about half of them are in the under 70s, and they are not in the first wave to be vaccinated.

“If we relaxed our restrictions we would immediately put the NHS under enormous pressure again.”

Although the number of new cases has started to fall in every part of England, it has been warned that the number of deaths and hospital admissions has not yet reached its peak.

England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty said on Friday that the peak of new hospital admissions of people with coronavirus will be “over the next week to 10 days”.

He said experts hoped that the peak of infections had “already has happened” in the south-east, east and London, where there was a surge in the Kent mutant variant, but will be later elsewhere.

“The peak of deaths I fear is in the future, the peak of hospitalisations in some parts of the country may be around about now and beginning to come off the very, very top,” he said.

The number of people who have died in the UK after testing positive for coronavirus has risen to 87,295 – an increase of 1,280 over 24 hours reported on Friday.

The UK hit a record high in the number of new deaths reported in 24 hours just days previously, with 1,564 deaths.


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