Seeing friends and family, 'stay alert' explained and getting back to work – what we learned from today’s Downing Street briefing

Coronavirus daily briefing round-upCoronavirus daily briefing round-up
Coronavirus daily briefing round-up
Here’s what we learned about the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown measures from Boris Johnson’s Government press conference on Monday, May 11.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was joined by Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.

Latest figures

Mr Johnson announced that a further 3,877 people have tested positive for coronavirus in the UK, bringing the country’s total to 223,060 on May 11.

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Of the people who have tested positive in all settings, 32,065 have sadly died. The number of people hospitalised with coronavirus has decreased from 11,768 to 11,401.

Tests above 100,000

The Prime Minister announced that 100,490 daily coronavirus tests took place in a 24 hour period prior to 9am on Monday, May 11. This is the first time there has been over 100,000 tests since the end of April and the second time overall.

Over 1,000,000 tests have now been carried out across the country.

PM defends ‘stay alert’ message

Mr Johnson elaborated on the Government's new slogan for tackling the pandemic.

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He said: "We're now asking people to stay alert, control the virus and save lives and yes, staying alert for the vast majority of people still means staying at home as much as possible.

"But there are a range of other actions we're advising people to take as we modify our measures.

"People should stay alert by working from home, if you can, limiting contact with other people."

The Prime Minister said other measures include keeping distance from others, wearing a face-covering in enclosed spaces such as public transport and isolating if someone in your house has symptoms.

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He added: "If everyone stays alert and follows the rules we can control coronavirus by keeping the R down and reducing the number of infections and this is how we can continue to save lives and livelihoods as we begin as a nation to recover from coronavirus."

Coronavirus five ‘alert’ levels explained

The Prime Minister explained the "new Covid alert level system" in place.

Boris Johnson said: "The Covid Alert Level has five levels, each relating to the level of threat posed by the virus.

"The level will be primarily determined by the R-value and the number of coronavirus cases.

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"In turn, that Covid Alert Level will determine the level of social distancing measures in place."

He added: "The lower the level, the fewer the measures."

He said that since lockdown started, the country has been at Level 4, "meaning a Covid-19 epidemic is in general circulation and transmission is high or rising exponentially."

He told the briefing: "Thanks to the hard work, sacrifices of the British people in this lockdown, we've helped to bring the R level down and the number of infections down and we're now in a position to begin moving to Level 3 in steps."

Can we see friends and family?

A big question that failed to be addressed in Mr Johnsons’ initial public message on Sunday evening was whether people were now allowed to meet with people from outside of their household.

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The Prime Minister clarified the message by stating that individuals were able to meet other individuals outside providing they observe social distancing measures.

"You can go to the park to exercise on your own for an unlimited amount of time,” he said.

“If you meet someone outside your household it has to be just you and that other person and you must observe social distancing measures and remain two metres apart.”

CMO Chris Whitty stressed the importance to exercise and said the risk of transmission outdoors was much lower than the risk of transmission indoors.

‘Baby steps' in getting people back to work

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The Government’s message is now for people to try and return to work if they are unable to work from home providing their employer has appropriate social distancing measures in place.

“If you can't work from home, talk to you employer about getting back to work and make sure it's safe to get back to work,” said the Prime Minister.

“I don't think we expect a big flood of people to get back to work this week, it's taking baby steps to make sure it's safe to do so and businesses have the correct measures in place.”

Johnson recognised that if workers don’t have access to childcare then that is something that would be something that presents ‘an obvious barrier to their ability to get back to work and I’m sure employers would agree’.

No guarantee of vaccine

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Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said that there is no guarantee that a vaccine for coronavirus will be produced but stressed that great progress has been made.

“Chances are a lot higher than they were [at developing a vaccine] but you never know until you have one,” he said.

“There has been no vaccine for SARS after 18-years. I'd be surprised if we didn't end up with a vaccine or some form of therapeutic measure.”

Chris Whitty said he was confident a solution to coronavirus would be found whether it be a vaccine or otherwise but stressed that the science would ‘take time’.

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