The government’s chief scientific adviser has suggested there could already be 55,000 coronavirus cases in the UK.
On Tuesday, health and social care committee chairman Jeremy Hunt asked Sir Patrick Vallance whether the expected death rate was one fatality for every 1,000 cases, which would mean there is “potentially 55,000 cases”.
Asked if this could be correct, Sir Patrick said: “If you put all the modelling information together, that’s a reasonable ballpark way of looking at it.
“It’s not more accurate than that.”
The latest official figures from the Department of Health show there had been 1,950 positive cases as of 9am on Tuesday. The latest death toll is 55.
Sir Patrick added the number of cases “should” start to fall in two to three weeks’ time, following the introduction of the government’s social distancing measures.
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“Together, you should expect those to have a very significant affect on peak,” he said, “and we should start to see the rates come down in two or three weeks’ time.”
Sir Patrick also said closing schools remained an option to curb the spread of coronavirus.
He told the committee that closing schools “would have an effect”.
However, he added “it has all sorts of complicated effects as well”, including potentially leading to children being looked after by grandparents: many of whom would be at a higher risk of contracting the virus.