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Coronavirus: UK will not 'return to normal' for six months, deputy chief medical officer warns

Jenny Harries made the warning at a Downing Street press conference.

2 min read

Life in the UK will not "return to normal" for six months, deputy chief medical officer Jenny Harries has warned.

Her comments appeared to put her at odds with Boris Johnson, who has said the UK could have "turned the tide" on the coronavirus in 12 weeks.

The Prime Minister put the country in lockdown by ordering people to stay at home except to shop for essentials, do one piece of exercise a day, collect medicine or go to work.

Anyone going outside must also stay at least two meters away from others in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus.

Mr Johnson said the the effectiveness of the policy would be assessed in three weeks' time to see if the measures could be relaxed.

But appearing at the daily Downing Street press conference, Ms Harries said it would be "quite dangerous" for restrictions to be ended too early.

She said: "If we stop, then all of our efforts will be wasted and we could potentially see a second peak.

"So over time, probably over the next six months, we will have a three-week review. We will see where we are going.

"We need to keep that lid on - and then gradually we will be able to hopefully adjust some of the social distancing measures and gradually get us all back to normal.

"Three weeks for review, two or three months to see whether we have really squashed it. But about three to six months ideally, and lots of uncertainty in that, but then to see at which point we can actually get back to normal."

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister - who revealed on Friday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus and is now self-isolating in 11 Downing Street - has paid tribute to the 20,000 former NHS staff who have answered the call to go back to the health service during the crisis.

Mr Johnson also revealed that 750,000 members of the public have now volunteered to help the NHS - three times the original target.

"One thing that the coronavirus crisis has already proved is that there is such a thing as society," he said.

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