Too soon to lift lockdown, minister warns as coronavirus cases rise

The economy across Suffolk has taken a battering since the country was put into lockdown Picture: S

The economy across Suffolk has taken a battering since the country was put into lockdown Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

A lockdown to protect Britons from contracting coronavirus is set to continue - because there is not enough evidence to suggest it is safe to start lifting restrictions.

That is the warning from ministers today, as the original three-week review of the UK-wide shutdown approaches.

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Under the government’s coronavirus legislation, health secretary and West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock must review the need for restrictions at least once every 21 days.

The first review is set to be carried out by April 16.

However health minister Edward Argar said now is not the time to start easing restrictions.

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“We need to start seeing the numbers coming down and that’s when you’re in the negative,” he said.

“That’s when you have a sense when that’s sustained over a period of time, that you can see it coming out of that.

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“We’re not there yet and I don’t exactly know when we will be. The scientists will tell us that they are constantly modelling the data and they’re constantly looking at those stats.

“We should also remember there is always a lag of a couple of weeks in the hospitalisation and death rate data behind the actions that we’ve taken to try to slow it down, because that’s the nature of the disease.”

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It followed a similar warning on Tuesday from foreign secretary Dominic Raab - who is deputising for prime minister Boris Johnson while he is treated in hospital for coronavirus.

Mr Raab said ministers first need to see evidence that the measures are working.

The government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, said the figures “could be moving in the right direction” - but suggested they need another “week or so” before they could be sure.

The number of deaths of coronavirus patients at Colchester and Ipswich hospitals, which are run by the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT), currently stand at 51.

At West Suffolk Hospital, 10 coronavirus patients have died, while nationally more than 6,000 people have died.

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