The UK’s Covid alert level is being moved down from level 5 to level 4, the four UK chief medical officers have decided. Prof Chris Whitty (England), Dr Michael McBride (Northern Ireland), Dr Gregor Smith (Scotland) and Dr Frank Atherton (Wales) have just issued this statement:
Following advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and in the light of the most recent data, the four UK chief medical officers and NHS England national medical director agree that the UK alert level should move from level 5 to level 4 in all four nations.
The health services across the four nations remain under significant pressure with a high number of patients in hospital, however thanks to the efforts of public we are now seeing numbers consistently declining, and the threat of the NHS and other health services being overwhelmed within 21 days has receded.
We should be under no illusions – transmission rates, hospital pressures and deaths are still very high. In time, the vaccines will have a major impact and we encourage everyone to get vaccinated when they receive the offer. However for the time being it is really important that we all – vaccinated or not – remain vigilant and continue to follow the guidelines.
We know how difficult the situation has been and remains to be for healthcare workers, we thank them for their immense effort, skill and professionalism throughout the pandemic.
While transmission rates decline, vaccines continue to be rolled out and the roadmap out of lockdown has been published, the new campaign is encouraging people to ‘keep going’. It acknowledges how difficult lockdown has been but highlights its effectiveness with falling infection rates and successful vaccine roll-out.
The campaign will run across TV, radio, out-of-home advertising and on social media, reminding people that everything they’ve done – working from home, washing their hands, wearing a mask, maintaining social distancing and video calling – is helping stop the spread of COVID-19 and new variants, edging us closer to coming out of lockdown. Every small act is making a big difference and it is important that everyone keeps doing what they’re doing. It aired for the first time on ITV at 7:15pm on Wednesday 24 February.
Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty said:
Infection rates are falling, but they still remain very high and the impact of COVID-19 is still putting pressure on hospitals across the country.
Vaccines give clear hope for the future, but for now we must all continue to play our part in protecting the NHS and saving lives.
This week, the Prime Minister has set out 4 stages of the roadmap – the first of which will involve reopening schools and allowing outdoor recreation with one other person from 8 March. However, even at this point, the stay at home order remains in place and people can still only legally leave their house for a very limited number of reasons. The stay at home message will, at the earliest, end on 29 March where people will be urged to stay local and keep taking individual decisions around their risk exposure.
The vast majority of people are staying at home and as a result, the number of COVID-19 cases is falling. However, infection levels remain high and the impact of the second wave is still being seen in hospitals across the country with over 1,000 people admitted to hospital every day. It is critical everyone continues to stay at home and follow the rules to help bring down infections even further and reduce pressure on the NHS.