UK coronavirus adviser says lockdown measures could be eased by end of May

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Is the coronavirus lockdown nearing its end in the United Kingdom?

A scientist who is been advising Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the British government revealed Saturday that the country could start easing some restrictions by the end of May if the number of cases decline.

“We want to move to a situation where at least by the end of May that we’re able to substitute some less intensive measures, more based on technology and testing, for the complete lockdown we have now,” Imperial College London epidemiologist Neil Ferguson told the BBC.

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Ferguson stressed that life would not return to normal, but rather be "more relaxed in terms of social distancing and the economy.”

The U.K. has been in an effective lockdown since March 23, with schools, bars, many shops and gathering places shut, and people told to go out only for essentials or exercise.

 

As of Saturday, the U.K. had 38,697 confirmed coronavirus cases and 3,611 deaths, according to statistics from Johns Hopkins University.

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The U.K. opened its first emergency coronavirus-treatment hospital in London on Friday in hopes of better containing the outbreak, while Johnson and Prince Charles have been among the confirmed cases.

The NHS Nightingale hospital in London will eventually have enough beds to treat up to 4,000 coronavirus-positive patients. (AP)

The NHS Nightingale hospital in London will eventually have enough beds to treat up to 4,000 coronavirus-positive patients. (AP)

Authorities also have imploring Britons not to flout lockdown rules this weekend, when the weather is expected to be warm and sunny.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.