GMB's Richard Madeley challenges Dr Hilary Jones over caution on lockdown easing

Richard Madeley challenged Dr Hilary Jones on GMB. (ITV)
Richard Madeley challenged Dr Hilary Jones on GMB. (ITV)

Dr Hilary Jones found himself challenged by Richard Madeley on Monday's Good Morning Britain after warning coronavirus lockdown restrictions could be lifting too soon.

It was previously announced by Boris Johnson that 21 June would see lockdown restrictions lifted and limits on social contact removed.

However, as infection rates have increased in the UK, some scientists have urged caution over the proposed date and ministers have said the unlocking could be delayed.

Read more: 'Other options' being drawn up for 21 June

Appearing on the breakfast show, Dr Hilary argued that it could be too soon to lift lockdown.

But Madeley questioned whether things were actually "getting worse", and suggested that higher rates weren't leading to more hospitalisations.

Dr Hilary replied: "But there are more hospitalisations.

"We may not be seeing so many, we're not seeing the big peak in hospitalisations and deaths, but we're still having our NHS staff work extremely hard to keep hospitalisations down and keep people from dying.

"ICU units are pretty busy again and some experts are saying that we are already in a third wave.

"So my question is, why would we ease restrictions now when things are getting worse, when we've got a new variant which is causing huge problems in India but big problems here as well?"

Dr Hilary went on to say "we have to get things under control" due to the risk of strain on the NHS and its employees.

"Until we get this under control, then we are going to have problems going forward," he said.

Watch: Government minister talks criteria for 21 June decision

Host Susanna Reid asked what Dr Hilary believed getting things "under control" looked like

He replied: "It means living with this.

"It means vaccinating the entire population and having booster doses.

It means continuing with social distancing for the time being with mask wearing and sanitising and being cautious. We're going back to another wave, we're going to see more cases, more hospitalisations –"

Read more: NHS staff 'broken and terrified' of impact of 21 June easing

Madeley interjected to ask if that would mean restrictions remaining in place over the summer.

"I know it's a nuisance for people," Dr Hilary said, and Madeley remarked: "It's more than a nuisance!"

Madeley went on: "So if you were prime minister you would be saying at some point in the next 48 hours, 'Sorry everybody, but you're stuck with this for the foreseeable. You're going to be living with this through the summer, into the autumn and possibly as long as Christmas until every last person, who is willing to be jabbed.'

Dr Hilary Jones suggested there should be caution around lockdown lifting too soon. (ITV)
Dr Hilary Jones suggested there should be caution around lockdown lifting too soon. (ITV)

"I mean, that's a big ask."

Dr Hilary said: "It is a big ask – it's a pandemic. It's the biggest health threat for 100 years. So we have to take it seriously."

"But not now!" Madeley said. "Because the vaccine has broken the link between infections and the hospital."

The TV doctor replied: "Yes it has, it's been magnificent in terms of its success, but we still have a quarter of the population who haven't had one jab and half who haven't had a second jab."

He added: "All I'm saying is be a little more patient."

Watch: Prime minister is positive about lockdown easing