The UK is nowhere near the end of the coronavirus epidemic despite cases continuing to fall, the chief medical officer has said.
Professor Chris Whitty issued the warning during the daily COVID-19 press conference at Downing Street on Wednesday.
After admitting he would be analysing the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic to see what could have been done better, he added: “There's always a question of timing, and there's always a question of what do you do now, even in the middle of something.
“Be very clear, we're not at the end of this epidemic – not by a long shot. We're in the middle of it.”
Prof Whitty had been asked about Professor Neil Ferguson’s suggestion easing lockdown a week earlier would have reduced the UK’s coronavirus death toll by at least half.
Prof Ferguson, who was one of the government’s key scientific advisers when lockdown was imposed on 23 March, said scientists underestimated how far the epidemic had spread in the weeks beforehand.
He told MPs on Wednesday: “The epidemic was doubling every three to four days before lockdown interventions were introduced.
“So had we introduced lockdown measures a week earlier, we would have reduced the final death toll by at least a half.”
Prof Whitty said lessons would have to be learned from the response to the pandemic.
He said: “I think there’s a long list actually of things which we need to look at very seriously.
“If I was to choose one it would probably be looking at how we could speed up testing very early on in the epidemic.
“And many of the problems that we had came because we were unable to actually work out exactly where we were and were trying to see our way through the fog with more difficulty.”
Boris Johnson announced from Saturday people will be able to form a “support bubble” with another household that will allow them to freely mix and stay over at each other’s home.
The latest move to ease England’s coronavirus lockdown will allow adults living alone or single parents to form a “support bubble” with one other household.
At the Downing Street briefing, the prime minister said: “We are making this change to support those who are particularly lonely as a result of lockdown measures.”