Covid-19 restrictions may still be needed next winter despite the vaccination roll-out now underway, England’s Chief Medical Officer has warned.
Speaking during a government press conference on Tuesday January 5 on the first day of the new lockdown, Professor Chris Whitty said that some restrictions may have to be brought back into place next winter to control the virus as that is when it thrives.
England’s chief medical officer told the Downing Street press conference: “If we did not do all the things all of us must now do, if people don’t take the stay at home seriously, the risk at this point in time, in the middle of winter with this new variant, is extraordinarily high.”
He said the risk level will gradually decrease over time with measures being “lifted by degrees possibly at different rates in different parts of the country, we’ll have to see”.
He added: “We’ll then get over time to a point where people say this level of risk is something society is prepared to tolerate and lift right down to almost no restrictions at all.
“We might have to bring in a few in next winter for example, that’s possible, because winter will benefit the virus.”
He added: “It’s important to understand that coronavirus is not going to go away, just as the flu doesn’t go away and the time that benefits them most is winter. I think we are just going to have to keep an open mind. But I think we shouldn’t kid ourselves that this just disappears with spring.
“What will happen with spring is the risk will go right down, hopefully we’ll have spring, summer, autumn, possibly winter as well, with almost nothing in place once the full vaccination programme is through.
Boris Johnson has said there is a “prospect” the current coronavirus lockdown in England can be eased in mid-February.
The Prime Minister told a No 10 press conference: “When a very considerable proportion of the most vulnerable groups have been vaccinated… then there really is the prospect of beginning the relaxation of some of these measures.
“But you will also appreciate there are a lot of caveats, a lot of ifs built into that, the most important of which is that we all now follow the guidance.”
It comes as a further 711 cases of coronavirus recorded across Nottingham and Nottinghamshire in the past 24 hours as the first day of the third national lockdown.
This is a reduction from the 910 cases confirmed across the county on Monday, January 4.
Data shows that, as of 4pm on Tuesday, there have been a further 60,916 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK.
This is the highest number of cases ever recorded in a 24-hour window.
It brings the total number of cases in the UK to 2,774,479.
In Nottingham city, there has been a rise of 225 cases, bringing the total number to 20,964.