The first case of a novel coronavirus in the United Kingdom was reported on 31 January. Since then, there have been more than 30,000 deaths across the country. In a bid to control the continued rise in COVID-19 cases, Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed the lockdown on 23 March, urged people to work from home if possible and imposed travel bans.
Meanwhile, people with underlying health conditions, those over the age of 70 and pregnant women were advised that they should self-isolate themselves at home for a period of 12 weeks. However, in a speech, Mr Johnson addressed the nation and outlined a road map for how lockdown restrictions would be eased in England in the coming weeks by using the latest COVID Alert System.
This system includes five alert levels with the least, one, requiring the least measures. Over the time of the lockdown, Mr Johnson said that the country has been in Level Four but it could now start moving in steps towards the Level Three. The prime minister added that the government also hoping to re-open some of the hospitality industry and some of the public places.
Mr Johnson said that the easing of restriction measures in England will only happen under the condition that the transmission rate for the novel coronavirus stays low. In reference to the infection R rate, a key measure to check how much the disease is spreading, Mr Johnson said that it depends on us, the entire country to follow the advice, to follow social distancing, and to maintain that R rate down.
The UK’s chief scientific advisor, Sir Patrick Vallance said that putting absolute timelines on the current situation is not possible and other ways of approaching the COVID-19 outbreak like allowing the people to develop “herd immunity”, have been described as requiring a much longer lead time, maybe more than a year.
Professor of cellular microbiology at the University of Reading, Dr. Simon Clarke said that it is impossible to put a date on this; when will coronavirus be over? He added if anyone tells you a specific date they are just staring into a crystal ball. The fact is that it will be with us forever because it has spread to the whole world now.
Dr. Clarke says it is especially challenging since it can reside in people without demonstrating any symptoms and then go on to be spread by that individual. There is no reason to say the coronavirus won’t continue to infect in the future. A lecturer in immunology at the University of Sussex, Dr. Jenna Macciochi agrees it is hard to estimate a date. It’s a question we all want to know its answer to and anyone knows for sure as this depends on several factors.
Professor of social sciences at Nottingham Trent University, Robert Dingwall describes the scenario as being impossible to give any scientifically-proven timeline. Professor Dingwall says that the novel coronavirus will remain as an endemic in human populations until there is an effective vaccine, which can be used on a large scale to squeeze the virus out.
The senior research fellow in global health at Southampton University, Michael Head says estimates are made particularly difficult since this virus is a novel virus. The difficulty with any current or future predictions is this is an entirely new virus, and the scale of the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented.
In other European nations, for example, Italy, specialists have executed a lot stricter restriction measures to battle the spread of the novel coronavirus, setting everybody under lockdown and just permitting little quantities of individuals to go out on account of crises or acquiring food and medication.