As the country’s death toll rose to 3,600 today, the Health Secretary said it was “possible” the worst of the crisis could come over the bank holiday weekend, on April 12.
The coronaviurus peak could come on Easter Sunday, it was predicted
This morning when asked whether he thought next Sunday would see the peak reached, he told Sky News: “I’m not going to steer you away from that.
“That is one perfectly possible outcome.”
Mr Hancock said the virus is expected to peak in the UK in the next few weeks, adding: “It’s very, very sensitive to how many people follow the social distancing guidelines.”
But he said that it had moved forwards to be sooner than expected earlier – in a hint that the lockdown is having an impact.
The PM and other ministers had warned the public that the country wide rules would be in place for at least three weeks, and is scheduled to be reviewed after the Easter weekend.
No10 has repeatedly warned that more lockdown measures could be put in place if the public are breaking the rules.
However, if the peak comes on the Sunday, it is unlikely that the Government will be able to lift the restrictions immediately after that.
No10 said this afternoon when asked about the date of the peak: “The PM set out when we announced the social distancing restrictions we would review them after three weeks, think that takes us to the other side of Easter.
“We will make an announcement then – I wouldn’t want to preempt that.
“Whatever decision we take will be led by the scientific advice, in particular what do we need to do is make sure we are continuing to prevent the NHS from coming under too much pressure, and saving lives.”
Today the death roll rose to 3,605 – with 38,168 COVID-19 coronavirus cases confirmed in the UK.
That’s an extra 644 deaths in just 24 hours.
In total 173,784 have now been tested – including 5,000 NHS workers.
More will be rolled out in the coming days.
Boris Johnson is still self-isolating with a fever seven days after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
But he delivered an urgent warning, telling the country not to celebrate the warm, sunny weather forecast for this weekend by flocking to the parks and beaches.
He said in a video posted to Twitter: “I just want to say one crucial thing… to everybody thinking about this weekend and what may be some fine weather.
“I reckon a lot of people will be thinking that this is all going on for quite a long time and they’d rather be getting out there… I just urged you not to do that.”
He said the country needed to “stick with” social distancing measures to slow the spread of the virus.
Mr Hancock finally laid out a plan last night to increase testing to as much as 100,000 a day by the end of the month, after mounting pressure to introduce mass testing.
NHS staff and other key workers were forced to wait in massive queues at testing centres so they could get a diagnosis and return to work if they were coronavirus free.
Matt Hancock said earlier it was possible it could peak over the Bank holiday weekend
Boris Johnson said today he’s staying in isolation for now as he’s still ill