Health chief urges public not to become complacent as new coronavirus cases show signs of ‘plateau’

National medical director at NHS England Stephen Powis said there are signs the rates of new coronav

National medical director at NHS England Stephen Powis said there are signs the rates of new coronavirus cases are beginning to plateau Picture: PIPPA FOWLES/CROWN COPYRIGHT/10 DOWNING STREET/PA WIRE - Credit: PA

NHS England’s national medical director says now is not the time to “take our foot off the pedal” after claiming the number of new coronavirus cases show signs of a plateau.

Professor Stephen Powis made the warning in Saturday’s government press conference, as the latest figures from the Department of Health showed the national death toll had risen above 4,000.

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Speaking alongside Michael Gove, Prof Powis said there had been a “bit of a plateauing” in the rates of people being taken to hospital in London but urged the public to continue to heed the government’s lockdown rules.

Mr Powis said: “This is not the time to be complacent and to take our foot off the pedal.

“We need to continue to comply with those instructions because that will translate in the next week or two into a reduction in hospital admissions.”

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The number of cases nationwide is continuing to rise despite Mr Powis’ claims however, with one of the latest 708 people to die after testing positive for the virus being a five-year-old child – although fellow medical professionals stress a plateau is in sight.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4, government scientific adviser Professor Neil Ferguson also said the epidemic is expected to plateau in the next week to 10 days.

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Prof Ferguson said: “We still think things will plateau but we’ll be at quite high levels of infection for weeks and weeks rather than seeing quite a rapid decline as the type seen in China.

“We want to move to a situation where at least by the end of May that we’re able to substitute some less intensive measures, more based on technology and testing, for the complete lockdown we have now,” MORE: Eight more people die after testing positive for COVID-19 in Suffolk and north Essex

So far in the NHS East of England region, 2,613 people have tested positive for the virus – including 191 people in Suffolk and 597 people in Essex.

The number is believed to be much higher however due to a lack of people being tested for the virus. MORE: Sign up to our daily newsletter for updates direct to your inbox

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