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Cobra meeting

Ministers unlikely to lift lockdown measures

Beehive Inn pub Grassmarket

Lockdown: Edinburgh’s Grassmarket (pic: Terry Murden)

Ministers will today review the coronavirus lockdown but the chances of any relaxation on current procedures appear slim.

The government’s emergency Cobra committee will look at evidence from scientists on the impact of measures brought in on 23 March.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will hold an online Q&A with MSPs, but said ending the lockdown early would be a mistake.

UK Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said a decision may come next week.

Mr Dowden didn’t set out a day next week when any change to the measures would be announced as he urged the public to stay home over the Easter weekend.

It’s essential that people stick with this guidance

– Oliver Dowden, UK Culture Secretary

Mr Dowden told Sky News that the committee will be analysing scientific evidence and determine the appropriate stage at which to either enhance or change the measures.

“I have to emphasise at this stage, just at the moment where we feel we are beginning to make some progress with it, it’s essential that people stick with this guidance now and stay at home,” he said.

Scotland’s interim chief medical officer Dr Gregor Smith said it will be “some time yet” before a decision can be taken on when to ease the lockdown.

He said he did not yet have the data that would allow him to pinpoint when the restrictions could be lifted.

Jason Leitch, Scotland’s national clinical director, has warned that we are still “rising to the peak” of the coronavirus outbreak.

He said: “There is not enough evidence to suggest we are at the peak of this of infection”.

Wales’s health minister said progress was being made as a result of lockdown measures and social distancing, but there was “zero prospect” of experts advising these can be eased yet.

Speaking ahead of the Cobra meeting with Dominic Raab and leaders of Scotland and Northern Ireland, Vaughan Gething said the lockdown measures will continue for “a number of weeks”.

The UK’s Cobra committee will be held as Boris Johnson faces a fourth day in intensive care, where he is said to be sitting up in bed and “engaging” with hospital staff as his condition gradually improves.

Wednesday saw the nation’s biggest surge in deaths among Covid-19 patients to date, with 938 hospital fatalities reported in 24 hours.

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