NHS director says it is 'critical' to obey social distancing rules over Easter weekend

10 April 2020, 08:18 | Updated: 10 April 2020, 09:50

Police move on sunbathers at Primrose Hill, north London
Police move on sunbathers at Primrose Hill, north London. Picture: PA

By Matt Drake

NHS England's national medical director Stephen Powis said it is "critical" that people obey social distancing measures this weekend to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

Last weekend the UK saw warm weather of 20C which carried on into the week.

Many people have flouted the rules and a police chief in Northhamptonshire warned he is only "days away" from checking people's items in trolleys to check if the items are "necessary" - however they have since backtracked on the threat.

NHS director Mr Powis said: "I think it is really critical this weekend that we keep obeying those instructions.

"We are beginning to see the benefits of this social distancing. We do believe the virus is spreading less.

"That will only continue to happen if we don't get complacent and continue to follow those instructions."

Mr Powis said it is "still too early" to say whether the UK has reached the peak of its coronavirus cases.

He added: "It's really difficult to predict where any peak of that plateau will be.

"There is a whole host of things we want to look at, we want to see deaths falling.

"Unfortunately I think for the next week or so they will continue to be high because it is the very last thing that changes when you introduce these measures.

"It's still too early to really be confident that we are turning the corner.

"We need to completely and utterly make sure that we all comply with the instructions we have been given."

In the government's daily press conference yesterday, first secretary Dominic Raab made similar pleas, saying: "We are not done yet, we must keep going."

It comes as prime minister Boris Johnson was moved out of intensive care.

Mr Johnson had spent three nights in intensive care after his condition deteriorated following a positive coronavirus diagnosis.

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