By Aasma Day
If the death toll in the UK from coronavirus is kept below 20,000, “we will have done very well”, NHS England medical director Prof Stephen Powis has revealed.
Powis insists that it is possible to “get on top of this virus” but said that if the UK can keep the number of deaths of people who have had Covid-19 under 20,000, it will be a “good result.”
Speaking at the daily government briefing, he said the virus will start to decline in the population, but only if “we all comply with the measures and reduce that amount of transmission”.
He says it will take up to a month to see how quickly the number of deaths will fall and how effective the current strategy is.
Powis added that although he agreed with the government’s chief scientific advisor Sir Patrick Vallence that deaths of under 20,000 would be a good result, he said: “Every death is absolutely a tragedy.”
He said it was imperative that people complied with all the measures: “Although that will be a good result, it will only happen if we stop the transmission of the virus.”
He issued a direct warning to the public on the day the UK’s deaths reached 1,019 and said the death toll wouldn’t stop “by luck” and action was needed.
“Now is the time to really, really lockdown and hone-down on what we’ve been asked to do.
“It’s not someone else’s responsibility, it’s all of our responsibilities.”
Asked about intensive care capacity, Powis said the NHS had not reached capacity yet within London and that extra beds were being opened all the time to deal with the extra surge.
He emphasised how everyone has their part to play in keeping the death toll down.
“I cannot emphasise enough to everybody watching today that you have the chance to save a life.
“You have a chance to stop a ventilator being used.
“It really is as simple as that. It’s not complex. The science behind it might be complex, but the reality is incredibly simple.
“Avoid contact with others where you can. Stay at home. If you’re symptomatic isolate – and that will result in fewer deaths and less pressure on the NHS.
“It is that stark for all of us.”