Coronavirus: When will we know the UK lockdown is working? – The Sun

 BORIS Johnson announced the UK would be in lockdown two weeks ago and cases of coronavirus have continued to soar. 

The number of deaths have also continued to skyrocket, and the rate of infection will have to slow down significantly before the nation can be released from lockdown.

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Government ministers are currently toying with allowing people who have had the virus out of lockdown and issuing them with immunity bracelets.

This would rely on widespread antibody testing – which tests if someone has had the disease, not if someone currently had it.

But none of the tests bought by the government work well enough to be relied on.

Is the infection rate slowing?

The number of people dying in hospital is doubling every few days, but the amount of confirmed cases and hospitalisations are slowing down.

National Medical Director of NHS England Stephen Powis said last week there were "green shoots" of hope after drastic social distancing measures were put in place.

Scientists said the daily death total will start to slow, but warned we could see record highs over the next few days.

Over the past three weeks, the number of new deaths havef doubled every three and a half days.

There have been dips in daily numbers, but top scientists warned not too read too much into any single day's figures.

Lecturer at Warwick Medical School James Gill told BBC News: "(it) is the overall trend, rather than the day-to-day figures."

If numbers follow the current trend, there could be a horrifying 1,000 deaths a day, doubling to 2,000 later this week.

The so-called "peak" of the disease could come as soon as Easter weekend, where there would be the most daily deaths.

The numbers are then expected to begin to level off.

Why hasn't there been in improvement in death rates?

It can take about a month from when infections slow for deaths to follow the same trend.

Coronavirus is not immediately fatal and so it takes time for people to be infected, then to be hospitalised and then to eventually die after treatment.

After that the deaths have to be record and reported which can take a few days.

The delay in numbers being released means even as we pass the peak, we might not see the biggest spikes in death figures for a few days.

Social distancing was introduced before the lockdown and modellers are hoping the effect of those measures it starting to show in the numbers of cases and deaths.

Modellers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine estimate that for every four people we met and touched before lockdown, we are only meeting one now.

This would reduce the ability of the virus to reproduce by 75%.

There are hints such as the slowdown in new cases and hospital admissions that deaths are slowing down.

The daily growth in numbers started to fall away from the long-term trend from last weekend.

What impact will testing have on numbers?

Epidemiologist at the University of Nottingham Professor Keith Neil warned the number of cases could rise again.

This would happen especially if the number of people being tested was increased.

Until the end of March, people who had to be admitted to hospital were the main group being tested.

This has now been widened so that NHS workers can also get tested and go back to work if they are negative.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the government was setting a new goal of testing 100,000 people a day by the end of April.

That would mean there would be a significant rise in the number of confirmed cases as people who may not have been hospitalised were tested.

Death rates will not necessarily rise as these confirmed cases go up.

Professor Neal said it was important to "report the number of new confirmed cases in NHS workers separately from cases in patients" to get a clear picture of what was happening.

Are we following other countries?

China put drastic lockdowns in place in Wuhan and Hubei province at the end of January before it saw more than 30 deaths.

The number of deaths every day continued to soar for around three weeks and then began to fall.

In Italy, the national lockdown began on March 8 as it became the epicentre of the outbreak in Europe. Two weeks later the number of deaths began to level off and the most recent figures show they have now started to fall.

Yesterday there were just over 500 deaths, compared with the peak at the end of March, when over 900 people died in a day.

Italy put lockdown in place in northern Italy, where the worst of the outbreak was, before the rest of the country.

The trends in death numbers in China and Italy are hopeful for the UK, meaning efforts to stop the spread of the virus can significantly slow the rate of infection.

So when will the UK return to normal?

Even after infection rates slow down, the country will have to continue to follow the strict rules.

This is because the government is scared of a "second wave" of infections once people return to normal life.

But there are also huge fears of the economic impact if the country stays on hold for long periods of time.

At the moment ministers are drawing up plans to end lockdown in early June, but people could be released at different times to stop a second wave.


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