Concerns have been raised about the government’s coronavirus strategy as Downing Street appeared to defer any decisions while Boris Johnson as in hospital.
England’s chief medical officer admitted at the last Downing Street briefing that the UK has ‘a lot to learn’ from Germany’s expansive testing scheme.
‘We all know that Germany got ahead in terms of its ability to do testing for the virus and there’s a lot to learn from that and we’ve been trying to learn the lessons from that,’ he said.
At the same briefing de facto prime minister Dominic Raab appeared reluctant to say whether he would be prepared to take a decision to break with the PM’s strategy while he was still in hospital if he believed a change of direction was necessary.
‘He’s asked me to deputise for him for as long as is necessary, but the normal cabinet collective responsibility and principles that inform that will apply,’ he said.
Raab suggested the review of the lockdown announced by the PM when he set out the restrictions would not go ahead on Monday as scheduled, despite the emergency legislation laid before parliament stating that a review must take place every 21 days, with the first deadline being April 16.
He stressed that they could not consider easing the lockdown restrictions until it was clear the peak of the epidemic had passed and it could be ‘responsibly done’.
But Downing Street later confirmed the review would take place after the three-week mark originally committed to.
However there was cautious optimism from chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance after he said the fight against Covid-19 ‘could be moving in the right direction’.
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Sir Patrick said there were signs that the rates of new infections and new hospital admissions for Covid-19 were ‘flattening off’.
But he added it would be another ‘week or so’ before they could be sure, indicating lockdown measures would not be eased before then.
The latest official figures from the Department of Health showed that 6,159 patients have died in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 5pm on Monday – an increase of 786 on the previous day.