UK Has ‘Reached the Peak’ of Coronavirus, Says Health Secretary

A medical professional in PPE, including gloves, an apron and a face mask as a precautionary measure against Covid-19, pushes a patient, also wearing a facemask, as he lays on a bed, inside St Thomas' Hospital in north London, on April 1, 2020, as life in Britain continues during the …
DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images

The United Kingdom has reached the peak of coronavirus cases, health secretary Matt Hancock said Wednesday, his comments later bolstered by first secretary Dominic Raab.

Addressing the now near-empty, socially distanced House of Commons on Wednesday afternoon, UK health minister Matt Hancock was outlining government measures the nation was being instructed to take as the nation reached the peak of the outbreak. But Mr Hancock quickly corrected himself, stating Britons “have reached the peak” and that new actions would be taken “as we bring the number of cases down”.

Making reference to the social distancing lockdown measures the nation has been toiling under in the past five weeks, Mr Hancock said: “It is making a difference. We are at the peak.”

Mr Hancock’s comments were followed by others from the stand-in for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, still recovering at his country retreat Chequers Court, first secretary of state Dominic Raab. Again leading the government’s daily coronavirus press conference, the first secretary said that while the country was “making progress through the peak of this virus”, it was nevertheless still not “out of the woods”.

Because the country was moving through the peak and not yet seeing serious declines in cases, it was still too early to ease the lockdown, Mr Raab said, telling the nation: “That’s why the measures we introduced must remain in place for the time being. The greatest risk for us now, if we eased up on our social distancing rules too soon, is we’d risk a second spike in the virus with all the threats to life that would bring, and then the risk of a second lockdown which would prolong the economic pain we’re all going through.”

Speaking last week, Mr Raab outlined the ‘five tests‘ the state of the nation would have to satisfy before lockdown could be eased. Concerningly, one of them is testing, an ongoing controversy in the United Kingdom as a significant gulf remains between the number of tests the government promised to deliver, compared to those actually taking place.

The government had promised to deliver a staggering 100,000 coronavirus tests a day by the end of April. With just days to go to reach that target, around 20,000 people are day are presently being tested. Sceptics have claimed the target number is impossible to achieve and was only ever intended as a headline-generating exercise.

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