UK's Covid alert level 'should be lowered from five to four'

The Covid-19 alert level should be dropped from its highest number five, the UK’s four chief medical officers have agreed.

It is set to be moved down to level four as officials said recent data shows the risk of healthcare services becoming overwhelmed within 21 days ‘has receded’.

Level four means the ‘Covid-19 epidemic is in general circulation; transmission is high or rising exponentially’.

The alert level was raised to level five on January 4 – the day Boris Johnson announced England would be plunged into lockdown for the third time.

In a joint statement, the chief medical officers and NHS England’s national medical director Stephen Powis said the numbers of patients in hospital was ‘consistently declining’.

However, they warned ‘we should be under no illusions’ as healthcare services remain ‘under significant pressure’ as deaths and infections are ‘still very high’.

The statement said: ‘The health services across the four nations remain under significant pressure with a high number of patients in hospital, however thanks to the efforts of public we are now seeing numbers consistently declining, and the threat of the NHS and other health services being overwhelmed within 21 days has receded.

‘We should be under no illusions – transmission rates, hospital pressures and deaths are still very high. In time, the vaccines will have a major impact and we encourage everyone to get vaccinated when they receive the offer.

‘However for the time being it is really important that we all – vaccinated or not – remain vigilant and continue to follow the guidelines.

‘We know how difficult the situation has been and remains to be for healthcare workers, we thank them for their immense effort, skill and professionalism throughout the pandemic.’

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