Ministers have cautioned it is still too soon to begin lifting the coronavirus lockdown, after Boris Johnson spent a second night in intensive care undergoing treatment for the disease.
The prime minister’s condition remains “stable”, according to the latest bulletin from Downing Street issued on Tuesday evening.
He is undergoing “close monitoring” at St Thomas’ Hospital in London after his condition worsened on Monday.
Johnson had been due to oversee a three-week review of the lockdown rules – brought in last month to curb the spread of the disease.
However with the number of cases continuing to rise, health minister Edward Argar made clear now is not the time to start easing the restrictions.
“We need to start seeing the numbers coming down and that’s when you’re in the negative,” he told BBC Breakfast.
“That’s when you have a sense when that’s sustained over a period of time, that you can see it coming out of that.
“We’re not there yet and I don’t exactly know when we will be. The scientists will tell us that they are constantly modelling the data and they’re constantly looking at those stats.
“We should also remember there is always a lag of a couple of weeks in the hospitalisation and death rate data behind the actions that we’ve taken to try to slow it down, because that’s the nature of the disease.”
It followed a similar warning on Tuesday from foreign secretary Dominic Raab – who is deputising for Johnson in his absence – who said ministers first need to see evidence that the measures are working.
The government’s chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance said the figures “could be moving in the right direction”, but suggested they need another “week or so” before they could be sure.
Meanwhile the first of the NHS Nightingale hospitals, at London’s ExCel centre, received its first patients on Tuesday.
The Nightingale was built to boost treatment capacity in London, but officials stressed limits have not yet been reached at other sites across the capital.
An NHS Nightingale London spokesperson said: “There is also treatment capacity available in other hospitals across London to complement the care being provided at the London Nightingale.”
The admissions come just two weeks after the temporary hospital with a planned capacity of 4,000 was formally announced, but later than had initially been expected.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the capital now has the capacity it needs to deal with the epidemic.
“At the moment we’ve still got 25%, about there, capacity within the NHS (in London) before we even go to Nightingale, so it demonstrates the can-do attitude of not just Londoners but those around the country who have helped us get ready for the peak of this virus,” he told BBC Breakfast.
Meanwhile Professor Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, has said the UK needs to learn from the example of Germany where the number of deaths appears to be growing more slowly.
“We all know that Germany got ahead in terms of its ability to do testing for the virus and there’s a lot to learn from that and we’ve been trying to learn the lessons from that,” he said.
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?