AN Oxford University study has placed the UK fourth from the bottom of a global league table of countries on preparedness for easing their coronavirus lockdowns.

The UK came in 191st place in the study of 195 countries – just below South Sudan. The only countries ranked as less ready to ease their restrictions were Algeria, Nicaragua and Iran.

The study works by examining which countries meet four of the World Health Organisation’s six recommendations for relaxing their physical distancing measures.

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Those recommendations include having Covid-19 transmission controlled “to a level of sporadic cases and clusters of cases, all from known contact” or at a minimum reduced to a level that the health system can cope with, ensuring sufficient public health workforce is in place for track and trace efforts and making sure the risk of exporting and importing cases from communities with high transmission case is minimised.

Oxford then puts together a “lockdown rollback table” based on data from the recommendations combined with epidemiological information from the European Centre for Disease Control, as well as Apple and Google travel and mobility stats. The scientists state the table produced “roughly describes” how ready countries are to ease their restrictions.

The researchers say: “As of June 1 2020, we estimate that only a handful of countries come close to meeting the 4 WHO recommendations we were able to estimate with the OxCGRT data, however there are about 30-50 which are close on several measures.

“We conclude that further steps are likely needed to ensure a safe reopening of society in the next weeks.”

The countries ranked in the top 10 on their preparedness were New Zealand, Greenland, Rwanda, Taiwan, Cyprus, Hong Kong, Seychelles, Slovak Republic, Trinidad and Tobago and Vietnam.

The UK Government plans to reopen shops in England next week, and as of this weekend people living alone there can effectively join another household in social “bubbles”. Up to six people from six different households south of the Border are also allowed to meet up outdoors providing social distancing guidelines are followed.

After those shielding in England were told that they’d be able to go for walks outside or meet up with another person as long as they stay two metres apart earlier this month, despite initially being advised to stay at home until the end of the month, Sage advisers have publicly stressed concerns that England is easing its lockdown too quickly.

Downing Street insists it follows the scientific guidance when it comes to making decisions relating to Covid-19.