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Lockdown: How Long Can It Last? - Tonight

Britain needs to conduct a million tests a week before it can loosen the COVID-19 lockdown, ITV’s Tonight Series has been told.

Sir Harry Burns is Professor of Global Public Health at Strathclyde University.

He told Tonight reporter Sonali Shah that Britain was not doing enough testing.

Ex Chief Medical Officer for Scotland Sir Harry Burns

“Until they get the testing done at a very significantly greater level than is being done at the moment, we are not going to be able to do the sums that will tell us that it would be safe to lift lockdown.”

– Sir Harry Burns, ex Chief Medical Officer for Scotland

Sir Harry, who was Chief Medical Officer for Scotland for nearly a decade, said that with a million tests a week, the whole population could be tested relatively quickly.

“It’s the single most important thing they can be doing just now,” he added.

17 days into the lockdown now, no-one in Government is willing to talk publicly about exactly when the lockdown can be lifted.

In the meantime, the Government has pledged to spend many tens of billions in a bid to preserve jobs and businesses,

They hope to prop up the economy for long enough to bring the virus under control and slow the number of deaths in fear it might otherwise overwhelm the NHS.

But the programme hears from people who have fallen through the government safety net.

Darren and Mary Andrews both recently went freelance. They could not have chosen a worse time.

My wife and I are in our 50s and 60s and recently self employed. As our trade is face to face with people in a classroom setting, our work has stopped.

We have basically no income at all at the moment. We don’t appear to be entitled to any help at all from any of the Chancellor’s schemes.

– Darren Andrews

The Government told the programme:

We are fully committed to supporting the self employed. Those who do not qualify will be able to access other support, including income tax deferrals, £1 billion more support for renters and access to three-month mortgage holidays.

– Government Response

Health secretary Matt Hancock Has committed the Government to conducting 100,000 tests a day by the end of this month.

'Lockdown: How Long Can It Last?' is on ITV at 7:30pm.