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Ministers warn lockdown could stay for months until new cases drop to the hundreds

Ministers have warned lockdown may need to remain in place for months until the number of new cases falls below 1,000 per day after Professor Chris Whitty raised the spectre of a second peak far worse than the first.

The total number of new coronavirus deaths in all settings was 674 on Thursday, down from 765 the previous day, but there was a leap in the number of new cases to 6,032 from 4,076 on the day before.

Although this was in part down to increased testing, ministers say they want daily infections down to the hundreds before any easing of the lockdown, The Daily Telegraph reported. Britain has not been down in the hundreds since March 23.

In his first Downing Street briefing since leaving intensive care, Boris Johnson said he would outline a 'menu of options' next week for how the UK could roll off the peak which he said we had past.

He claimed that efforts to bolster the NHS had avoided a 'reasonable worst-case scenario' of 500,000 deaths if we hadn't locked down. But he dashed hopes of any premature easing of restrictions, saying that if the 'R' value (the reproductive rate of the virus) was allowed to rise above one, the outbreak would rise again.

Germany's surging infection rate as a result of easing its measures - when its daily rate was far lower than ours at 2,000 - is understood to have sparked deep concern among ministers.

It comes as Prof Whitty warned that 'Covid-19 is a very long way from finished and eradication is technically impossible for this disease' which could batter us again in the colder months.

England's chief medical officer told an online lecture: 'It's not just in Game Of Thrones that winter is always coming ... the winter is always worse than summer, spring and autumn for health services.'

And he echoed the Prime Minister's sentiments on the R value (now between 0.6 and 0.9), saying that if it was not held below one then we were bound for another vicious tsunami of the contagion.

Prof Whitty said: 'We need to make sure that R does not go back above one. Because if not we will go back to a second wave. It is entirely plausible for a second wave to actually be more severe than the first if it is not mitigated.'

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My view: I think Boris Johnson and his cabinet ministers should stop the daily briefings if they have nothing good to tell the public. They should just stop the showboat daily confusion and learn from South Korea, how They've been able to make tactical decisions regarding schools, movements, and been able to move forward without some of the draconian measures.

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