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‘Too soon’ to see fall in Covid-19 hospital cases even though lockdown measures ‘are working,’ government says

LOCKDOWN measures enacted to slow the spread of Covid-19 “are working,” but it is yet to be seen whether they have resulted in a fall in the number of hospital cases, the government said today.

At this afternoon’s daily Downing Street briefing, deputy chief scientific adviser Professor Angela McLean said that the efforts by Britons to stay at home are helping control the spread of the virus.

Growth in the number of Covid-19 hospital cases is “not as bad as it would have been if we had not made these efforts,” she said.

But she questioned whether the spread of the virus is slowing down enough to make the number of hospital admissions stabilise and then fall.

Prof McLean said that hospital-admission numbers by region had risen “very steadily” until April 1 and then showed a “more complicated behaviour.”

She said: “But it really is too soon to see the effects of the big changes we’ve all made to our lives from March 23 onwards.

“That was only two weeks ago, and it takes several weeks after you’ve become infected for you to realise you’re ill enough that you really need to be in hospital.

“We’re all watching these numbers very, very carefully and we’re very much hoping what’s going to happen next is they will at least stop rising.”

Some 3,802 new cases in the last 24 hours has taken the total of people tested positive for the virus to 51,608. The number of recorded deaths is 5,373, after a rise of 439 in 24 hours.

Professor Chris Whitty, in his first public appearance since recovering from coronavirus symptoms, said that it would be a mistake to discuss the next phase of managing the pandemic until there is confidence that the peak has been reached.

He added that it was “critical” for the NHS to always have an excess of available critical-care beds during the fight against coronavirus.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is acting as Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s deputy while he’s recovering from the coronavirus, said the building of further NHS Nightingale hospitals in areas such as Bristol, Harrogate and Birmingham was about ensuring that there was a spread of critical-care beds in England.

He said: “We are not remotely complacent. We are doing everything we can to make sure we not only have the capacity but also room for manoeuvre.”

Mr Raab insisted that Mr Johnson was still in St Thomas’ Hospital “under observation” as a precautionary measure to undergo tests because his coronavirus symptoms had lasted more than 10 days.

He said that Mr Johnson was in “good spirits” following his admission on Sunday and that the PM “still remains in charge of government.”

Pressed by journalists on why Mr Johnson was sick enough to be in hospital but well enough to be running the country, Mr Raab said: “That’s something he will decide on the medical advice he’s received from his doctor.”

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