Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England, has spoken about the possibility the virus situation will improve by the spring.
Speaking at tonight’s Downing Street press conference, he was asked if he believed things would be much better by then.
Professor Chris Whitty said it is “very likely” that the situation will improve by the spring but cautioned that it would not be completely back to how it was before the pandemic.
“What no-one thinks is that suddenly in spring it is all over and that is the whole thing done. What we expect is things to be substantially better than they are at the moment,” he told a No 10 press conference.
“The hope is that is a kind of reasonable timeframe to be thinking about. But if we try to put a hard stop on this we will be caught out by events.
“But I think that broad timeframe still feels to me a reasonable one, provided what we are not expecting is completely back to two springs ago.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said at the conference there were some “tentative, early signs” that pressure may be slightly easing in London’s hospitals.
He said: “We are seeing some tentative early signs that the pressure may be slightly easing in London now.
“But it’s far too early to be remotely confident about that and we need to make sure that we keep the discipline and focus of the lockdown.”
Speaking at the conference, chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance stressed that although infection rates were starting to level off, it is a “suppressed peak” that would “boil over for sure” if controls are eased.
He said: “This is not the natural peak that’s going to come down on its own, it’s coming down because of the measures that are in place.
“Take the lid off now and it’s going to boil over for sure and we’re going to end up with a big problem.
“And that’s a lesson about making sure it’s all cooled down enough before you get to that position.
“So I don’t think we should view the point as a natural turning point in the disease, it is a suppressed peak that we need to keep on top of.”