THE coronavirus lockdown could last until the end of June, Scotland’s chief medical officer has warned.

Dr Catherine Calderwood said that there needed to be measures of some kind in place for 13 weeks to slow down the virus.

Given that coronavirus has an incubation period of two weeks, and can be passed on with ease, it would, she warned, take a “long period of time before you would know that the virus was slowing down”.

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The medic also suggested that there could be more restrictions coming in the next few weeks.

Her comments echoed remarks made in the Sunday Times by Professor Neil Ferguson. He told the paper: “We’re going to have to keep these measures in place, in my view, for a significant period of time – probably until the end of May, maybe even early June. May is optimistic.”

The National: Boris Johnson's herd immunity plan could have cost the UK 260,000 livesBoris Johnson's herd immunity plan could have cost the UK 260,000 lives

Speaking on BBC Radio Four’s Broadcasting House, Calderwood said modelling showed that periods of restrictions of less than 13 weeks led to the virus resurfacing again “because we haven’t stopped it transmitting amongst lots of people”.

“We’ve now had quite significant lockdown-type measure in the UK for a week, we know that we can tell whether that’s making a difference within two weeks to three weeks so that modelling is being re-looked at,” she added.

Calderwood said she hoped the current measures would mitigate the extremely high projected death toll.

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“We would hope we are looking at a more optimistic level given the range of measures we have put in which are quite extreme and also given the level of compliance.

“We are very hopeful that that huge figure of 260,000 excess deaths is not going to be the reality.”

“London has been hit very hard, we’ve seen those numbers increase over the last number of weeks, [with] estimates of between two and three weeks [before reaching the peak],” she said.

“Our peaks might be smaller because we currently have fewer cases.”

Boris Johnson announced the lockdown just last week, in order to try to avoid the 260,000 deaths Ferguson predicted would occur if the UK pressed ahead with the “herd immunity” idea. The Prime Minister promised a review would quickly follow after Easter.

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Calderwood warned if that review showed they were not having the desired effect then “more stringent measures would need to be put in place”.

The National:

At the UK government briefing, Dr Jenny Harries (above), deputy chief medical officer for England, said the measures to slow the disease’s spread will likely continue for six months.

A sudden lifting could see the nation’s sacrifices “wasted”.

“We need to keep that lid on and then gradually we will be able to hopefully adjust some of the social distancing measures and gradually get us all back to normal,” she said.

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“Three weeks for review, two or three months to see if we’ve really squashed it, but three to six months, ideally, but lots of uncertainty in that but then to see at which point we can actually get back to normal and it is plausible it could go further than that.

“This is not to say we would be in complete lockdown for six months, but as a nation we have to be really, really responsible and keep doing what we’re all doing until we’re sure we can gradually start lifting various interventions which are likely to be spaced – based on the science and our data – until we gradually come back to a normal way of living.”