UK advisers warn coronavirus lockdown easing is too soon, Sky News reports

People walk near Tower Bridge in London, on May 28, 2020.
People walk near Tower Bridge in London, on May 28, 2020.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (BLOOMBERG, REUTERS) - Britain is easing restrictions on people's movements too soon as infections continue to surge, according to two of the government's scientific advisers, Sky News reported.

An "untested" system to test and trace the spread of the virus exacerbated the risk of wider contagion, John Edmunds and Jeremy Farrar of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies were quoted as saying.

A third member of a scientific advisory body to the British government has also warned that it is too soon to lift the Covid-19 lockdown because the test and trace system is not yet fully operational. 

Professor Peter Horby, chairman of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) and a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), said Britain could not afford to lose control of the virus. 

“We really can’t go back to a situation where we’ve got the numbers of cases and deaths we’ve had in the past,” he told BBC Radio, adding that a test, trace and isolate system needed to be in place.

“As we know, it’s not yet fully operational so that is where the risk lies,” he said.

England is expected to see between 40 and 80 ongoing deaths a day even without a second wave, based on present numbers, Edmunds said, while Farrar noted that a newly introduced National Health Service test and trace system needed to be "fully working" before measures were eased.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson further relaxed curbs on movement this week even as the Office for National Statistics calculated that an additional 54,000 new coronavirus cases were emerging each week. The UK has recorded 272,607 people with coronavirus, of whom 38,243 have died, according to data collated by Johns Hopkins University.