Social restrictions ‘to remain for rest of year’

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The UK will have to live with some disruptive social measures for at least the rest of the year, the government’s chief medical adviser has said.

Prof Chris Whitty said it was “wholly unrealistic” to expect life would suddenly return to normal soon.

He said “in the long run” the ideal way out would be via a “highly effective vaccine” or drugs to treat the disease.

But he warned that the chance of having those within the next calendar year was “incredibly small”.

“This disease is not going to be eradicated, it is not going to disappear,” he said, at the government’s daily coronavirus briefing.

“So we have to accept that we are working with a disease that we are going to be with globally… for the foreseeable future.”

The latest figures show a further 759 people have died with the virus in UK hospitals, bringing the total number of deaths to 18,100.

Prof Whitty said the public should not expect the number of coronavirus-related deaths to “fall away” suddenly after the peak.

“In the long run, the exit from this is going to be one of two things, ideally,” he said.

“A vaccine, and there are a variety of ways they can be deployed… or highly effective drugs so that people stop dying of this disease even if they catch it, or which can prevent this disease in vulnerable people.”

Prof Whitty warned there were multiple different ways in which the coronavirus epidemic would result in deaths or ill health.

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