UK Covid-19 alert level moves from four to three

19 June 2020, 10:20 | Updated: 19 June 2020, 20:25

Two women pictured shopping in face masks in London as it was announced the covid-19 threat level is being reduced
Two women pictured shopping in face masks in London as it was announced the covid-19 threat level is being reduced. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

Britain's coronavirus alert level has been reduced from four to three, it was announced today.

A government spokesman warned however "the virus is still in general circulation, and localised outbreaks are likely to occur. You must continue to wash your hands and keep 2m distance."

The decrease indicates the epidemic is in general circulation but transmission is no longer "high or rising exponentially."

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “The UK moving to a lower alert level is a big moment for the country, and a real testament to the British people’s determination to beat this virus.

“The government’s plan is working. Infection rates are rapidly falling, we have protected the NHS and, thanks to the hard work of millions in our health and social care services, we are getting the country back on her feet."

The Department for Health and Social care said in a statement signed by the chief medical officers of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland: "The Joint Biosecurity Centre has recommended that the COVID-19 alert level should move from Level 4 (A COVID-19 epidemic is in general circulation; transmission is high or rising exponentially) to Level 3 (A COVID-19 epidemic is in general circulation).

"The CMOs for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have reviewed the evidence and agree with this recommendation to move to Level 3 across the UK.

"There has been a steady decrease in cases we have seen in all four nations, and this continues. It does not mean that the pandemic is over. The virus is still in general circulation, and localised outbreaks are likely to occur.

"We have made progress against the virus thanks to the efforts of the public and we need the public to continue to follow the guidelines carefully to ensure this progress continues."

What are the five alert levels?

Level 1 COVID-19 is not known to be present in the UK

Level 2 COVID-19 is present in the UK, but the number of cases and transmission is low

Level 3 A COVID-19 epidemic is in general circulation

Level 4 A COVID-19 epidemic is in general circulation; transmission is high or rising exponentially

Level 5 As level 4 and there is a material risk of healthcare services being overwhelmed

Professor Matt Keeling, from the University of Warwick, said the move was "expected and is justified by the current epidemiological situation", but warned that it is "not a time for complacency".

"Our model-based assessment of the outbreak shows that cases are now at levels comparable with early March (before the lockdown began) and are continuing to fall, albeit slowly," he said.

"The move to level three is a direct consequence of the public's response to the social-distancing advice, but does not imply that these efforts should be relaxed. We cannot afford to lose the gains that have been made in controlling this outbreak."

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