Health minister Nadine Dorries suggested yesterday that “full lockdown” will be required in the UK until a vaccine id discovered for COVID-19.
She tweeted: “Journalists should stop asking about an ‘exit strategy.’ There is only one way we can ‘exit’ full lockdown and that is when we have a vaccine. Until then, we need to find ways we can adapt society and strike a balance between the health of the nation and our economy.”
Journalists should stop asking about an ‘exit strategy.’ There is only one way we can ‘exit’ full lockdown and that is when we have a vaccine. Until then, we need to find ways we can adapt society and strike a balance between the health of the nation and our economy . #COVID19— Nadine Dorries 🇬🇧 (@NadineDorries) April 15, 2020
The declaration comes as the government is today expected to announce an extension of the UK’s current coronavirus restrictions until at least May 7, as England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitby warns that the country is “not yet past the peak” of the outbreak.
When questioned on her comments, Dorries responded, saying: “I said society needs to adapt. It would be more helpful to talk about ‘relaxing lockdown’ than constantly demanding an ‘exit strategy.’ My point being, some of you guys need to start asking more intelligent questions.”
Matt Hancock has so far defended the UK government’s decision to not yet outline a lockdown exit plan, saying: “Different countries are in different stages in this epidemic, and one of the things I think we’ve learned during this crisis is the clarity of guidance to the public is incredibly important.”
However, in yesterday’s Downing Street press conference, Whitby suggested ministers could soon be allowed to start planning Britain’s exit strategy from lockdown as more information is gathered about how coronavirus is spread.
He said: “The more understanding we have of where that is, which will happen over the next ten days, the more easy it is to judge how we can go into the next phase in a way that is properly evidence-based.”
Sources in Whitehall have revealed that it is the absence of Prime Minister Boris Johnson that has caused the delay in formulating an “exit strategy” and has said that different cabinet ministers were working out their own theories within their departments.
Ministers are currently under orders to avoid talking about exiting the lockdown.
Meanwhile, there has been increased speculation about when schools will reopen with the head of England’s most successful academy urging the government to set a date for the reopening schools in the UK.
Hamid Patel, chief executive of Star Academies, said: “Confirmation of a date will of course be subject to medical advice – but having a date in mind is essential. This could either be in mid-May or immediately after May half-term. Setting a date will provide a clear sense of purpose and avoid the confusion and distraction of endless speculation.”
The government has previously said it will only reopen schools when the scientific evidence says it is safe to do so and that they will not be opening schools straight after the Easter holidays. However, some school leaders have suggested a return in July, although it is reported that several ministers are pushing for a much earlier date so that other lockdown restrictions can also start to be relaxed.
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