Slowing death toll ‘positive’ but too early to lift lockdown, says MP
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A Suffolk MP has cautiously welcomed news of the lowest increase in recorded hospital deaths from coronavirus this month – but warned talk of lifting the lockdown was ‘irresponsible’.
Dr Dan Poulter, MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, said the apparent reduction in the rate of deaths was positive, but that life could only return to normal with an effective treatment or vaccine for Covid-19.
The UK death toll increased by 413 on Sunday – the lowest recorded since the end of March.
Overall deaths passed 20,000 this weekend – not including deaths in nursing homes or at home.
Dr Poulter said: “The fact we’re seeing the lowest figure this month is something we can certainly welcome – but it would be very easy to find ourselves at square one if we’re not careful.
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“We’re seeing the effect of lockdown in protecting lives, but there’s still a very long way to go.
“It’s hard not seeing people we love and care about, and living life in a way we’d become used to, but talk of lifting restrictions is premature.”
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Over two days of the weekend, Ipswich Hospital confirmed three patients had died, while five patients were confirmed to have died at Colchester Hospital, and three more deaths were confirmed at West Suffolk Hospital.
Before considering it safe to adjust social distancing measures, the government said it must be satisfied that the death rate falls sustainably and consistently; that the rate of infection is decreasing, and that there is no risk of a second peak.
Some senior Conservatives have urged the government to reveal plans on easing the lockdown to avoid the risk of smaller firms going out of business.
But Dr Poulter said: “I would hate to see a second wave if people become complacent.
“We can’t be absolutely sure we won’t see many more thousands of deaths in the weeks and months to come.
“The only way life will be able to meaningfully return to how things were prior to the pandemic will either require very effective treatment or a vaccine – and we’re not close to either of those at the moment.
“If we see the number of new infections fall to the low hundreds on a daily basis, there may then be an opportunity to relax more measures – in conjunction with some sort of aggressive contact tracing and a much more widespread testing regime, alongside ongoing social distancing and hand hygiene.
“I think it’s highly irresponsible to talking about lifting the lockdown. It’s the fastest way to increase the spread and number of infections.”