Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in his first briefing since his own infection with coronavirus, yesterday told the nation the UK was ‘past the peak’ and set out five key tests before the government could adjust social distancing measures.
They are that leaders:
• Must be sure they can continue to protect NHS
• Must see a sustained fall in deaths
• Must be sure the infection rate is falling
• Must overcome operational and logistical challenges on testing and PPE
• Must make sure the measures do not risk a second spike
Director of public health at Lincolnshire County Council Derek Ward agreed with the PM, adding: “Certainly we are over the peak of this particular wave in Lincolnshire.
“Our peak wasn’t as high as other places and we have learnt from other places because we were a little bit behind.”
However he had mixed responses to the targets and said he lacked confidence over PPE supply.
Mr Ward said: “PPE continues to be a challenge. I wouldn’t be confident that I could say we absolutely have assurances over supply of PPE – we’ve got some, we’ve got a reserved stock, but I’m not confident in that supply.
“It’s something that we talk about every day to try to make sure we get that, but certainly I’m not confident to say we would cover.”
Regarding the other targets, he said there was evidence the NHS had coped with Covid-19 in the county and had capacity in hospitals.
He said the daily death rate had been ‘flattening’ for a couple of days – yesterday just one death was reported, bringing the county’s total to 102.
Having previously seen increases at the peak of eight, seven and six cases a day there were now an of average two-three and some days none at all.
However, he added: “We’re seeing a fall but we haven’t stopped seeing any deaths and I wouldn’t expect that for a long time.”
The total number of coronavirus cases recorded in Lincolnshire is currently at 828 – up from 804 the previous day.
Mr Ward said decreasing the rates of infection to manageable levels was tricky because ‘in effect we’ve got two epidemics’ – one is in the general population and also in care homes.
He said that while the first was ‘certainly coming down’ but there were outbreaks in the latter and the county was working hard to ‘make sure we’re stamping out as quickly as we can’.
Currently 20 of the 270 care homes across the county are in protective isolation.
Mr Ward concluded that the final test ‘would depend on what the government says we’re going to do but I’m not sure what that is yet’.