Ending England’s lockdown in December is realistic, says medical chief


It is realistic that England’s forthcoming national lockdown can end on Dec. 2, chief medical officer Chris Whitty said on Tuesday, as it is designed reduce COVID-19 transmission rates enough to move into less stringent measures.

Whitty said that any decision on whether to extend the lockdown, due to come into force on Thursday, would be for government, but he had faith that the public would adhere to the new restrictions.

Asked if there was a reliable chance of lockdown ending as scheduled on Dec. 2, Whitty said: “The aim of this is to get the rates down far enough that it’s a realistic possibility to move into a different state of play at that point in time.”

He told lawmakers that the lockdown could reduce the virus reproduction number below 1, but that other measures would be needed through the winter even if full lockdown ended in December.

Whitty and UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance were giving evidence to a parliamentary committee ahead of a vote on Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s proposed national lockdown, due on Wednesday, which is expected to pass despite scepticism from some in Johnson’s Conservative party.

Whitty and Vallance defended the models presented to the public to justify a new national lockdown, saying it was realistic to expect that deaths from the second wave from COVID could match the first unless action were taken.

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