Coronavirus is 'lurking', WHO expert warns after Boris Johnson announces lockdown easing

Sophia Sleigh
Nigel Howard

Coronavirus has “not gone away” and is “lurking”, a World Health Organisation expert warned today after Boris Johnson announced lockdown restrictions would be eased .

Dr David Nabarro, the WHO’s Covid-19 special envoy, said people needed to be prepared against the fast-spreading virus as measures are relaxed.

It comes after Boris Johnson announced the biggest relaxation of restrictions yet , with up to six people from different households allowed to meet outside in England from Monday.

Dr Nabarro said the national lockdown had prevented the Covid-19 becoming “totally catastrophic right across the country” but warned we must now be on “constant defence”

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: “This virus has not gone away.

“It’s there. It’s lurking and we don’t always know exactly where it is. So we have to be prepared as movements start to intensify for new outbreaks to build up very quickly.

Boris Johnson announced on Thursday that the lockdown would be eased (PA)

“So it’s gradual improvements in the ability of people to move but at the same time a great deal of caution. Being on the lookout for new cases appearing, often in very small clusters perhaps in residential accommodation or in factories.”

He also warned that the virus was “really powerful” at spreading through communities.

Dr Nabarro said it will be a “different normal” from what people were used to six or seven months ago.

He also said those shielding will have to make their “own choices” about the level of risk that they want to take.

He added: "I'm in the shielded category and I do want to be able to see my family.

"I think it is really important that, in the next few months, all of us make sense of what we know about this virus and the risks, and then we ourselves, with support from our friends and support from of course public health authorities, are able to make choices that will enable us to live with this virus as a threat and at the same time get on with life."

He said when it comes to seeing grandchildren it will not be close hugs straight away and that the level of disease will increase in colder weather.

Last night the Prime Minister said the Government’s five tests, that had to be met before restrictions were eased, had been met.

Speaking at Thursday's Downing Street briefing, he said people should "try to avoid seeing people from too many households in quick succession".

It means people will now be able to see both parents or grandparents at once and barbecues will be allowed as long as people maintain social distancing and wash their hands.

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