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The Health Secretary was questioned as to wether the lockdown would need to be extended in order to curb the spread of the virus during a Downing Street press conference. He said it was not yet the time to make a decision regarding the end of the current second lockdown.
Mr Hancock said: “The answer is that it is too early for us to know what the number of cases will be as we come to the end of the current lockdown.
“But what I would say is that at the moment most of the tests that we are getting back and most of the positive cases are from around the time that the lockdown came in.
“And so we are yet to see in the data, and it is too early to expect to see in the data, the impact of the second lockdown.
“But we absolutely hope to be able to replace the national lockdown with a tiered system similar to what we had before.
“But we of course are assessing that and assessing how we can make sure that that will be effective.”
But the remarks were not welcome among social media users, who took to Twitter to express their despair over the “struggle” of not knowing when the lockdown willed.
One Twitter user said: “Since 23 March the government has tightened & loosened the lockdown screws.
“This plays with people’s minds, lives and businesses. It’s a form of psychological torture.”
Another person added: “It’s like having a prison sentence with no end date. I just hope they stick to 2nd Dec.
“It’s a real struggle not knowing how long we have to tread water for.”
A third person said: “The stress of this has wreaked havoc on my stomach all year. Which then leads to me getting more stressed.
“Which then leads to my stomach playing it. Awful cycle.”
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Dr Susan Hopkins, a Public Health England director, who is helping the Government outline the coronavirus guidance, offered further insights on the current lockdown.
She backed Mr Hancock’s remarks, adding that the impact of the lockdown on the prevention of the virus would begin to show “over the next week”.
Dr Hopkins said: “The key issue for us is making sure that cases start to fall and we expect if the lockdown is working, and we are all doing the best we can to have reduced social contact with other people, that we will start to see cases decline over the next week.”
She also suggested the Government could decide to tighten the rules at the bottom end of the English tier system if and when the system comes back into force.
Dr Hopkins added that the Tier One restrictions had “little effect” on decreasing coronavirus infections.
During the press conference, she was asked what would happen following a potential lifting of the lockdown on December 2.
She said: “We have recognised that the tiering of the country has had a different effect in each area. Tier 3 and especially Tier 3 plus in the north has had an effect on reducing the numbers of cases in the north west and we can see in the north west a declining number of cases now.
“Tier 2 seemed to hold in some areas and not so well in others so really it depends on how fast transmissions are occurring and how well the individuals in the population are taking that advice in.”
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