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Coronavirus: Hopes rise that UK lockdown could be relaxed within weeks as experts say outbreak has nearly peaked

Coronavirus: Hopes rise that UK lockdown could be relaxed within weeks as experts say outbreak has nearly peaked

The UK's lockdown has been in place since 23 March.

2 min read

Britain is nearing the peak of its coronavirus outbreak, raising hopes that the country-wide lockdown could begin to be eased within weeks.

Medical experts said the latest data showed that the increase in cases of the deadly illness had "flattened".

It came as it was confirmed that the number of people to die in the UK from Covid-19 rose by 761 in the past 24 hours, down from 778 the day before, to produce a total of 12,868.

Official data also showed that the numbers being admitted to hospital with the disease dropped by 1% across the UK since Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the number of people being diagnosed has been steady for a fortnight.

Ministers will confirm on Thursday that the current movement restrictions - which have been place since 23 March - will continue for another three weeks.

But the new data increases the chances of the lockdown being gradually lifted in line with the action being taken by other European governments.

Referring to a graph on the number of new cases, deputy chief scientific adviser Angela McLean told the latest Downing Street press conference: "What I see when I look at that slide is two weeks of not increasing any more - I see a flattened curve.

"That is evidence of what everyone has done together has worked for us all."

On the fall in hospital admissions, she said: "What I see here is evidence that everybody’s efforts to stay home is having the impact that we hoped it would have and bringing this epidemic to a much better trajectory."

Chief medical officer Chris Whitty said the outbreak was "probably reaching the peak overall".

"We do all think that this has flattened out," he said.

However, Professor Whitty did warn that the number of people dying from the illness would continue to rise "for a short while".

All-but confirming that the lockdown will continue for another three weeks, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: "We cannot let go of the hard work that’s been done so far. This shared sacrifice, and I know it’s a sacrifice, is starting to work.

"But we will not lift these measures until it is safe to do so. Everyone who stays at home is doing their bit - protecting the NHS and saving lives."

Labour leader Keir Starmer has called on the Government to publish its strategy for lifting the lockdown before Parliament returns remotely next Tuesday.

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