Coronavirus: 'Things could be moving in the right direction' says chief scientific adviser

James Morris
·Senior news reporter, Yahoo News UK
·3-min read
Women wearing face masks to protect from coronavirus walk past a billboard with a work by artist Mark Titchner in east London, Tuesday, April 7, 2020. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
A billboard in London as the UK saw its highest daily coronavirus death toll on Tuesday, though the government has suggested things 'could be moving in the right direction'. (AP/Matt Dunham)

The UK has suffered its highest daily death toll of the coronavirus pandemic so far – though the government’s chief scientific adviser has suggested things “could be moving in the right direction”.

Some 6,159 COVID-19 deaths have now been confirmed by the government. This was up 786 from Monday’s death toll. The previous highest day-on-day increase was 708 on Saturday.

However, speaking at the government’s daily coronavirus press conference on Tuesday, Sir Patrick Vallance pointed to the reduced number of UK cases as he cautiously pointed to signs of progress.

Tuesday’s number of new cases – 3,634 – was the lowest for seven days. It was also a marked decrease from the highest daily number of 5,903 recorded on Sunday.

The graph referred to by Sir Patrick showing the number of new coronavirus cases between 16 March and 7 April. (Department of Health)
The graph referred to by Sir Patrick showing the number of new coronavirus cases between 16 March and 7 April. (Department of Health)

Sir Patrick said: “There is not that big upswing in growth that we talked about in the beginning. There is a fairly steady increase in numbers.

“It’s possible that we’re beginning to see the beginning of change in terms of the curve flattening a little bit.”

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However, he also warned: “We won’t know that for sure for a week or so.

“But what we are not seeing is an acceleration. It’s important we keep the number of new cases down because this in turn leads to people going into hospital.”

Referring to hospital admissions, Sir Patrick added: “There hasn’t been the accelerated take-off and again it’s possible that we’re beginning to see the start of a change where we might see numbers flattening off.

“It does begin to suggest that things might be moving in the right direction in terms of numbers and it’s important that we carry on with the measures that we have got in place in order to make sure that this does go in the right direction.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 07: Chief Scientific Officer, Sir Patrick Vallance arrives for the daily Coronavirus briefing at No.10 Downing Street on April 07, 2020 in London, England.Prime Minister Boris Johnson was transferred to the intensive care unit at St Thomas' Hospital after his coronavirus symptoms worsened last night. (Photo by Kate Green/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Sir Patrick Vallance in Downing Street on Tuesday. (Kate Green/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Sir Patrick said a major factor was a “substantial reduction” in the use of public transport and cars, which will have led to a decrease in community transmissions.

His comments came as Boris Johnson remained in intensive care at St Thomas’s Hospital in Westminster.

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The prime minister’s official spokesman said he was in a “stable” condition after his coronavirus symptoms had worsened on Monday.

Johnson was breathing without any other assistance, the spokesman said.

Dominic Raab, who has become the de-facto PM in Johnson’s absence and led Tuesday’s press briefing, said the cabinet has “very clear instructions” from Johnson while he remains in hospital.

Meanwhile, Michael Gove became the latest senior member of the government to be affected by COVID-19 as he went into self-isolation.

Read more: Actual death toll has been 'more than double' the figures supplied by government

The Cabinet Office minister and chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster said one of his family members was showing “mild symptoms”, though Gove said he wasn’t suffering any himself.

Gove is part of the government’s coronavirus “war cabinet” and therefore one of Number 10’s figureheads in its response to the crisis.

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