Covid transmission rates ‘incredibly high’ and must fall before lockdown lifted, government adviser warns

 Covid transmission rates ‘incredibly high’ and must fall before lockdown lifted, government adviser warns

Coronavirus transmission rates are still “incredibly high” and must fall significantly before lockdown restrictions are lifted, a government scientific adviser has warned.

The director of the Wellcome Trust, Sir Jeremy Farrar, suggested that cases must be brought down to the “single thousands” and urged against setting arbitrary dates for easing measures.

“We’ve got to learn the lessons of history,” he stressed. “2020 — we will remember it. We remember the lockdowns, we remember frankly easing too quickly and going back into lockdowns again in the future.”

However, Downing Street later refused to commit to a case rate below 10,000 being the trigger for the easing of lockdown restrictions.

Boris Johnson‘s official spokesman said only that the prime minister would “look at all the data in the round” when drawing up the roadmap for recovery which he has promised to unveil in the week of 22 February.

Sir Jeremy, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) said: “We should aim that this is the last lockdown at this level in the UK. But that can only be true if transmission is very, very much lower than it is today. 

“It’s still incredibly high in the UK, if transmission was at this level and we were not in lockdown, we’d be going into lockdown. There are 750,000 people today in the UK infected.”

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