All parts of UK on 'emergency footing' as chief medical officer warns coronavirus measures could last six months

  • Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Paul Brand

All parts of the country are now on an “emergency footing” as the UK was warned it could be six months or longer before the country gets back to normal from the coronavirus pandemic.

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries told the daily government briefing there would be a review of lockdown measures every three weeks and warned numbers were likely to get worse before they got better.

The latest death toll of patients who have tested positive for coronavirus is 1,228, an increase of 209 on the day before.

A further 2,433 cases of the respiratory disease have been diagnosed in the UK, bringing the total to 19,522 .

When asked whether the country would be on lockdown for the next six months, Dr Harries said: “We actually anticipate our numbers will get worse over the next week, possibly two, and then we are looking to see whether we have managed to push that curve down and we start to see a decline.”

She added: “This is not to say we would be in complete lockdown for six months, but as a nation we have to be really, really responsible and keep doing what we’re all doing until we’re sure we can gradually start lifting various interventions which are likely to be spaced – based on the science and our data – until we gradually come back to a normal way of living.”

The UK could be on some sort of lockdown for six months. Credit: PA

But she did add that while people had taken “quite some time to get used to this new way of living”, there was evidence the country was getting better at social distancing.

However, in a letter sent to UK households over the coming week, prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that if tougher lockdown measures are required in the effort to beat Covid-19, they will be taken.

Also on Sunday, Cabinet minister Michael Gove said the length of the coronavirus lockdown is not "absolutely fixed" and the time the country spends on it"depends on all of our behaviour".

Speaking on Sunday, Dr Harries said: “The issue of the three weeks is for us to review where we are and see if we’ve had an impact jointly on the slope of that curve.

“But I think to make it clear to the public if we are successful we will have squashed the top of that curve, which is brilliant, but we must not then suddenly revert to our normal way of living that would be quite dangerous.

“If we stop then all of our efforts will be wasted and we could potentially see a second peak.

“So over time, probably over the next six months, we will have a three-week review.”

Lockdown measures could last six months. Credit: PA

In an “unprecedented step in peacetime,” Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick announced a military-supported national supply distribution teams that would be led by "gold commanders".

The Government was bringing together senior members of the emergency services, with local authorities and the NHS to “lead communities through this challenging period, from Cornwall to Cumbria”, he announced at the briefing.

Members of the armed forces will be embedded in each of these groups, Mr Jenrick in a move not seen since "World War Two".

Mr Jenrick said millions of items of personal protective equipment (PPE) were being delivered to NHS staff.

The UK public have become better at social distancing. Credit: PA

“We simply cannot and should not ask people to be on the frontline without the right protective equipment,” he said.

He said the Government had established a “national supply distribution response team” to deliver PPE to those in need, supported by the Armed Forces and other emergency services.

Some 170 million masks and almost 10 million items of cleaning equipment are among the items being delivered to NHS trusts and healthcare settings, he said.

“All delivered to 58,000 NHS trusts and healthcare settings, including GP surgeries, pharmacies and community providers,” he told the briefing.

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