Coronavirus live updates as NHS to be 'at full stretch' for another six weeks

A senior health official has warned the prime minister not to ease the lockdown too quickly.

It comes, he says, that the NHS is likely to remain “on full swing” for at least six weeks.

Chris Hopson, executive director of NHS Providers, which represents NHS trusts in England, has written to Boris Johnson to focus on “data, not just data” when it comes to the government’s approach to getting out of the lockdown to find.

Boris Johnson will review data on coronavirus case numbers, hospital admissions, deaths, and the impact of vaccine adoption this week as he prepares his plan to reduce restrictions.

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Mr Johnson has announced that he will aim to relax restrictions when he sets his plan next Monday but will “not hesitate” to postpone plans if infection rates make it necessary.

It comes as:

– Vaccines Taskforce Chairman Clive Dix told Sky News that any adult in the UK could receive both shocks by August or “maybe sooner”, which is a sign of optimism about the speed of vaccine adoption.

– Surge testing will be used in parts of Norfolk, Southampton and Woking, Surrey, where the South African Covid-19 variant was found and expanded in Manchester.

– A new tool to identify those most at risk of serious illness or death has identified 1.7 million additional people in England who should provide protection – a move that is moving 800,000 people up the priority list for a vaccine become.

In his letter to the Prime Minister, Hopson said the number of cases was “still far too high” and that the health service was “in full swing”. He said the trustees believed it would last at least six to eight weeks.

He said: “The evidence of Covid-19 cases, NHS capacity, advances in vaccinations and willingness to fight Covid-19 variants shows that it is far too early to start lifting restrictions . “

Downing Street is reportedly considering a cautious approach to easing current measures.

The Daily Mail said ministers are balancing so that the holidays can open in time for Easter weekend and that pubs can open in May but only allow up to two households to mingle indoors.

The rule of six would then go into effect by June to mingle in, he added. Read more here.

Follow all of today’s coronavirus updates on our daily blog below.

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