NHS Chief Warns Coronavirus ‘Green Shoots’ Do Not Mean UK ‘Out Of The Woods’

Ned Simons
National Medical Director at NHS England Stephen Powis speaking Tuesday's daily press conference in Downing Street on coronavirus.

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The medical director of NHS England has said the UK is seeing the “green shoots” of its recovery from coronavirus.

But speaking at Tuesday’s Downing Street press conference, Stephen Powis said the country was far from being “out of the woods”.

“Winter could come and those green shoots could turn out not to be the hopeful green shoots we thought they might be,” he said.

Powis said the “last thing” he wanted was for people to “not comply” with government orders to stay at home where possible to stop the spread of the virus.

“It is really early days. We are not out of the woods. We are very much in the woods,” he said.

“This is not a short haul. This is going to take time. It’s important we stick with it.”

Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, told the press conference it was “absolutely not the time to imagine there can be any relaxing or slacking” of the lockdown.

He also used the press conference to promise that “the first of thousands of new ventilator devices” will be delivered to the NHS next week.

A total of 1,801 patients have now died overall in UK hospitals as of 5pm on Monday, according to public health chiefs in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, up by 393 from 1,408 the day before. The Department of Health and Social Care later said a slightly smaller number, 381, had died, but did not explain the discrepancy.

A 19-year-old with no underlying health conditions was among them.

Amid criticism from Labour, Gove conceded that while the rate of coronavirus testing in the UK had increased, it must go “further and faster”.

He said a “critical constraint” on the ability to rapidly increase testing capacity was the availability of the chemical reagents.

Gove said Boris Johnson and health secretary Matt Hancock were working with companies worldwide to ensure the UK gets the material...

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