Lockdown should end on Dec 2 say experts who insist next fortnight is ‘crucial’

The lockdown in England should end on December 2 as planned but the next two weeks are "crucial", experts have claimed.

It was enforced on November 3 so far it appears the strict restrictions have helped to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The R rate, which measures the average number of people a person with Covid-19 infects has fallen back below 1, according to estimations.

According to the Covid Symptom Study app it is estimated to be 0.9 across the country.

While Government advisory body Sage, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies put its estimate as somewhere between 1.1 and 1.3 on Friday.

And the Times reported Tier 3 regional restrictions "had a very significant impact",

John Edmunds, who led the study and works with the the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: "The tier system did have some impact in reducing contact and especially Tier 3 had a very significant impact.

"Tier 3 restrictions reduced that by 1.5 contacts a day, which in the context of five daily contacts is a big change."

Sage members now hope that cases will start falling in the next week after 27,301 new infections were recorded on Friday.

If that is the case the national lockdown could be lifted on December 2 as planned, with the Tier system being enforced in regions dependent on the number of cases.

Sage scientist Professor Susan Michie told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "For the next two weeks, everybody has to really get all their resolve together."

She added that it was likely to be "very challenging", saying it was "partly because of the weather (and) partly because, I think, the promise of a vaccine may be making people feel complacent.

"But the vaccine is very unlikely to come in until the end of the year or beginning of next year and that's going to make no difference to the current second wave."

Before going into the second lockdown some Government scientists had warned that the UK has "little to no scope" of relaxing social distancing rules for Christmas.

It said: "If England returns to the same application of the tiering system in place before November 5, then transmission will return to the same rate of increase as today."

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