UK’s top health experts predict death rate to reach peak amid Coronavirus pandemic

Photo: Getty Health experts predict that the UK’s daily COVID-19 death rate could reach its peak today. On Friday, the

Coronavirus: UK live updates, 980 new deaths reported in Britain ...

Photo: Getty

Health experts predict that the UK’s daily COVID-19 death rate could reach its peak today.

On Friday, the death rate rose to 980 per day, higher than Italy and Spain though less than France. The number may plateau for several weeks until beginning to decline, raising questions about the future of the national lockdown. However, PM Boris Johnson remains hospitalized and his deputised Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is unable to take major decisions without Cabinet approval. As a result, the government exit-strategy and timetable for the lockdown stands unclear.

With no clear locus of authority, Cabinet divisions on how to proceed with and lift social restrictions will exacerbate. Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak is concerned that a prolonged lockdown will trigger economic collapse while Health Secretary Matt Hancock prefers the lockdown to avoid overstretching the National Health Service. Raab’s weak position makes it unlikely that he will be able to reconcile the Cabinet and reach a decision before Johnson’s recovery.

Even if the modeling is correct, it may be two weeks or more before the death rate begins to fall and months before the nation-wide lockdown is lifted. How the UK emerges from social quarantine will depend on when Johnson recovers within the next month.

Wake up smarter with an assessment of the stories that will make headlines in the next 24 hours. Download The Daily Brief.