It could be six months before the UK 'returns to normal' according to the deputy chief medical officer

A timeline on the lifting of lockdown restrictions is a "moving feast" says the country's deputy chief medical officer.
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At this evening's daily news briefing from the government, Jenny Harries, was asked when life might start to return to normal.

While she said it is uncertain, she said that within two to three weeks it may be more clear whether the lockdown restrictions and social distancing is having an effect on the spread of coronavirus and the pace at which new cases are being seen.

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She said: "There is a two week time lag and you need a lag for the effectiveness of interventional measures to come through. You need two to three weeks to see what you have achieved collectively."

Dr Jenny Harries, the UK's deputy chief medical officer.Dr Jenny Harries, the UK's deputy chief medical officer.
Dr Jenny Harries, the UK's deputy chief medical officer.

Ms Harries added: "The issue of the three weeks is for us to review where we are and see if we've had an impact jointly on the slope of that curve.

"But I think to make it clear to the public if we are successful we will have squashed the top of that curve, which is brilliant, but we must not then suddenly revert to our normal way of living that would be quite dangerous.

"If we stop then all of our efforts will be wasted and we could potentially see a second peak. So over time, probably over the next six months, we will have a three-week review.

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"This is not to say we would be in complete lockdown for six months, but as a nation we have to be really, really responsible and keep doing what we're all doing until we're sure we can gradually start lifting various interventions which are likely to be spaced - based on the science and our data - until we gradually come back to a normal way of living."

Meanwhile, Robert Jenrick, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government opened the briefing by saying all parts of the country are on an "emergency footing" and there were two new updates on the strategic approach to fighting coronavirus.

He said: "This is an unprecedented step in peace time, we haven't done anything like this since the Second World War.

"This means that we are establishing strategic coordination centres across the whole country."

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They will be led by gold commanders and feature the police, fire and ambulance services, local authorities and the NHS. Army personnel will be tasked to each centre to help with the response and also provision of medical and protective equipment.

Mr Jenrick told the Downing Street briefing that millions of items of personal protective equipment (PPE) were being delivered to NHS staff.

"We simply cannot and should not ask people to be on the frontline without the right protective equipment," he said.

He said the Government had established a "national supply distribution response team" to deliver PPE to those in need, supported by the Armed Forces and other emergency services.

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Some 170 million masks and almost 10 million items of cleaning equipment are among the items being delivered to NHS trusts and healthcare settings, he said.

"All delivered to 58,000 NHS trusts and healthcare settings, including GP surgeries, pharmacies and community providers," he told the briefing.

"Every single GP practice, dental practice and community pharmacy has had a PPE delivery. All care homes, hospices, and home care providers have, or will shortly, receive a delivery."

He added: "To NHS and social care workers, all those who rely on this equipment, and to their families and loved ones watching this afternoon," he told the briefing.

"We understand and we will not stop until we have got you the equipment you need."