Step three: Lower infection rates across the board
The third test for the Government would be having data from the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) that showed the rate of infection was “decreasing to manageable levels across the board”.
Sir Patrick confirmed that SAGE currently assesses that the rate of infection, or the R value, is “almost certainly below 1” in the community.
That means that on average each infected person is, in turn, infecting less than one other person – suggesting that “it’s likely that the virus and the epidemic is now shrinking.”
But Mr Raab admitted that: “We still don’t have the infection rate down as far as we need to”.
There are concerns that some areas will reach the peak of infections later than others, making a blanket lifting of the restrictions across the UK problematic.
Mr Raab admitted that when it came to allowing some economic and social activity to resume, measures could be “relaxed in some areas” while strengthened in others.
Step four: Testing and PPE
Mr Raab said the fourth point that needed to be satisfied was that the rate of “operational challenges” including testing capacity and personal protective equipment (PPE) were in hand, “with supply able to meet further demand.”
Last week, Health Secretary Matt Hancock pledged that 100,000 tests would be carried out a day by the end of the month following criticism that the UK had been slow to roll out testing compared to countries like Germany and South Korea which have had far fewer fatalities.
On Wednesday, Mr Hancock announced that “everyone in the social care system who needs a test can get one “immediately”.
Prior to the announcement, only the first five symptomatic residents in a care home setting are tested to provide confirmation of whether there is an outbreak.
Labour’s shadow minister for social care Liz Kendall has said that “only 500 care staff having been tested to date”, and social care needs “a much greater priority and focus than it has had so far”.
Downing Street says testing capacity now stands at 19,000 people a day.