Coronavirus lockdown 'to last at least three months', Scotland's chief medical officer says

Joe Gamp
·Contributor, Yahoo News UK
·4-min read
Empty streets within sight of Canary Wharf, in east London, as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The UK's lockdown measures will be reviewed on April 12 – but Scotland's chief medical adviser said it could be three months "at the earliest" before restrictions are lifted. (PA)

Coronavirus lockdown measures could be lifted in three months if the public complies with enforced social distancing rules, Scotland's chief medical officer has said.

The UK has been under strict social distancing rules since 24 March, when Boris Johnson announced UK residents were to remain at home for a period of three weeks.

Speaking at a press briefing in Scotland on Thursday, Catherine Calderwood said: “What we do know from the scientific evidence is that if people are stringently obeying these new rules, these very difficult rules… we are then able to slow the spread of this transmission.

“The more we comply, the better that those measures are going to reduce the transmission of the virus and that length of time, at least 13 weeks, we would be able to lift some of those measures potentially after that three-month period.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (centre) speaking at a coronavirus briefing at St Andrews House in Edinburgh with Scotland's Chief Medical Officer Dr Catherine Calderwood (left) and Health Secretary Jeane Freeman (right).
Scotland's chief medical officer Dr Catherine Calderwood, first minister Nicola Sturgeon and health secretary Jeane Freeman at a coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh. (PA)

She did not specify whether Scotland or the entire UK would need to observe measures for three months.

Downing Street declined to elaborate on Calderwood’s comments when contacted by Yahoo News - saying they would review lockdown measures after Easter Monday.

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Announcing the measures in March, Johnson said that people would only be able to leave their home for shopping for basic necessities and on a limited basis.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon speaking at a coronavirus briefing at St Andrews House in Edinburgh. (PA)
First minister Nicola Sturgeon speaking at a coronavirus briefing at St Andrews House in Edinburgh. (PA)

These movements include shopping for basic necessities, one form of exercise a day and travel to and from work if “absolutely necessary”.

Also speaking at the Scottish briefing, Nicola Sturgeon urged people to stay home to protect the NHS and save lives.

The first minister warned there would not a be a “quick fix” solution to the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK.

She said: "This unfortunately is not a quick fix. We all want this phase of our lives to be over as quickly as possible.

“As much as I’d like to stand here and say otherwise, it is unlikely that this will be in just a few weeks. We are in this for the long haul.”

Screen grab of Public Health England medical director Yvonne Doyle answering questions from the media via a video link during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COVID-19).
Public Health England medical director Yvonne Doyle said lockdown measures would be reviewed on April 12. (PA)

“Please everyone, I know how tough this is, but please, please stick with it. You are helping us to save lives,” she added.

“Let me again thank everyone across the country who is playing their part – your efforts will continue to be really vital in the weeks ahead as we fight this battle against coronavirus.”

On Thursday, the number of UK patients who died after testing positive for COVID-19 rose by 569 to 2,921, from Wednesday’s tally of 2,352.

A chart showing the rise of UK coronavirus cases and deaths. (PA)
A chart showing the rise of UK coronavirus cases and deaths. (PA)

There are now 33,718 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK, it has been confirmed, which represents a rise of 4,244 from the 29,474 reported on Wednesday.

The lockdown measures are to be reviewed after Monday, 12 April, following three weeks of social distancing across the UK.

Speaking at a daily press briefing at Downing Street on Wednesday, the director of Public Health England, Yvonne Doyle, said the government was reviewing the lockdown model and would discuss it after the Easter weekend.

Professor Doyle said the measures would be reviewed with the use of scientific evidence and clinical information as to how the epidemic is progressing.

She said the UK was not in "as severe" a position as Spain, the US or Italy - but added there was "no reason to be complacent".

However, business secretary Alok Sharma said ministers were being careful not to cause a "dangerous second peak" by ending measures too soon.

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