Lockdown will be lifted between spring and summer, says NHS chief

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NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said he expects lockdown to be eased gradually around spring and summer time.

He said: “It is not going to be the case that on Valentine’s Day, with one bound, we are free.

“Equally, I don’t think we will have to wait until the autumn, I think somewhere between those two.

“Subject, of course, to this uncertainty around new variants of coronavirus and it will be very important we don’t see those taking off in a way that undermines the effectiveness of the vaccines we have.”

Sir Simon said the NHS in England is vaccinating at a rate of “140 jabs a minute”.

He said: “We will start testing 24/7 in some hospitals over the course of the next 10 days.

“But we are at the moment vaccinating at about 140 jabs a minute and yesterday (Saturday), a quarter of a million people got their vaccinations on the NHS.

“I’m pretty confident by the time we get to the end of today, Sunday night, we will have perhaps done 1.5 million vaccinations this past week, that’s up from around a million the week before.”

Sir Simon said the NHS is facing the most “unique” situation in its history.

Asked if the nation’s health service has ever been in a more precarious situation, he told the Andrew Marr show: “No. This is a unique event in our 72-year history, it’s become glib to talk about this as the worst pandemic in a century, but that is clearly correct.

“We have got three-quarters more Covid inpatients now then we had in the April peak.

“Although we are seeing some promising signs of the steadying of the infection rates, the fact is they are still far too high and, among some age groups, still rising.”

Someone is being admitted to hospital with coronavirus “every thirty seconds”, Sir Simon has said.

He told the Andrew Marr Show: “The facts are very clear and I’m not going to sugar-coat them, hospitals are under extreme pressure and staff are under extreme pressure.

“Since Christmas Day we’ve seen another 15,000 increase in the in-patients in hospitals across England, that’s the equivalent of filling 30 hospitals full of coronavirus patients.

“Staggeringly, every thirty seconds across England another patient is being admitted to hospital with coronavirus.”



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