London reports NO new coronavirus cases for 24 hours in huge boost for lockdown easing

LONDON has reported NO new coronavirus cases for 24 hours – giving a glimmer of hope that lockdown measures could soon be eased further.

The capital has been one of the hardest high regions in the UK since it's first reported case in February.

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Yesterday no new cases of the killer bug were recorded in London, according to data published by Public Health England.

PHE health chiefs have cautioned not too look too much into this figure as it could be an anomaly.

Almost 6,000 people have died of coronavirus in London hospitals after testing positive, according to the PHE figures published on Monday.

Data from the Office of National Statistics shows the figure could be higher as 5,903 deaths related to coronavirus were recorded in London between May 7 and May 13.

Earlier this month, the North West over took London as Britain’s coronavirus epicentre with more hospital cases than the capital as the Government has hinted at easing lockdown at different rates for different regions.

Cases across the country have been steadily dropping after 2,412 new coronavirus cases were diagnosed yesterday – down from 2,684 the day before.

The number of deaths has steadily been falling as well – despite yesterday being the highest rise in a week, with deaths jumping by 545.

The declining number of cases and deaths is one of the five tests the UK needs to pass before lockdown is lifted.

Another one of the tests is to see the infection or "R" rate drop to below one.

The "R" rate is reproduction number and is crucial to determining how the killer bug spreads.

The so-called "R number" is now between 0.7 and 1.0 — it needs to be kept below one in order for lockdown to be lifted.

Last week, experts estimated the reproduction number has gone up from between 0.5 and 0.9 to between 0.7 and 1.

But the government's top scientists cautioned that the small increase in the R value isn't thought to be linked due to a lag of about two to three weeks in data.

Instead, they believe that as the total number of cases in the community is falling, the number in care homes and hospitals is accounting for a greater proportion of the total.

Lockdown rules began to ease last week, with sunbathing and unlimited exercise allowed – as long as Brits observe social distancing.

Brits have also been told if they can go back to work then they should, sparking commuting chaos in the capital as transport in London has been running on a reduced timetable.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan – who is facing criticism after announcing plans to increase the charges for vehicles driving in central London and hike Underground fares – has called for all commuters to wear masks.

He said public transport must only be used for essential travel.

Despite that, Government plans to ease the lockdown continue.

Pupils at some schools will return in June, while pubs, cafes and restaurants could open to sell pints and food from market-style outdoor stalls in just weeks.

The Prime Minister's spokesperson hinted that some elements of the lockdown could be eased at different rates in different parts of the country.

Boris Johnson’s spokesperson said the Recovery Strategy document released last Monday made it clear that the authorities would be responsive to new data on local infection rates when looking to ease lockdown.

He said: "It could lead to some of the measures being eased at different rates in different parts of the country and at the same time it could lead to some measures being re-imposed in some parts of the country but not in others."

Mr Johnson hopes a slow phased unlocking of Britain will allow the country to slip back into some sort of "new normal".

The Government still needs to fulfill the five requirements needed to end lockdown.

The five tests are: the ensure the NHS has the capacity to provide care, there is a sustained and consistent fall in daily deaths, the 'R' rate drops to manageable levels, over coming operational challenges with PPE and testing and being confident in easing lockdown.

The Sun Online contacted Public Health England and the Department of Health for a comment.


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