In order to keep track of the rate of infection, the Government tests people – although the number of people being tested is limited. 

The daily numbers of infections have been falling, most recently to less than 5,000. Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser, said he thought the R0 number – the measure used to see how many people the virus is being passed to by an infected person – was down to one. However, he said he wanted it below one. 

Prof Whitty added that it was up to the Government to choose which decisions to take that still added up to less than R1. In Germany, for example, restrictions did not begin to ease until the R0 fell to 0.7.

Protective gear

The fourth test was to ensure there was enough personal protective equipment (PPE) to meet future demand. 

While shortages remain a major problem, the Government is desperately trying to find solutions, most recently having enlisted prisoners to make scrubs, which costs around a third of the normal commercial rate.

Earlier this month, Mr Hancock said the Government was “working night and day to make sure we get the right PPE”, but it comes after a series of fiascos, including an RAF plane being left waiting for key supplies in Turkey after the Government failed to check on the export licence for 400,000 medical gowns ministers had promised were on the way. 

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