There are three things Britain needs to get out of coronavirus lock-down - WORLD IN FOCUS

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Saturday, 11 April 2020

There are three things Britain needs to get out of coronavirus lock-down

Treatments, reliable infection data and mass testing. And we don't have ANY of them

The UK's lockdown could rumble on for months because the country has no idea how many people are truly infected with the coronavirus and none of the tools to end the outbreak, experts say. 
Italy, widely considered to be about a fortnight ahead of the UK, is today expected to prolong its shutdown until May 3 as it grapples to get COVID-19 under control.
Scientists in Britain say it won't be safe for the UK to emerge from its current state until it can be sure labs are able to test people en masse to use antibody tests to work out how many people have had the infection already, or a vaccine or treatment can be developed.
Public Health England has yet to find or create an antibody test it finds acceptable, the country is testing fewer than 15,000 people per day compared to more than 70,000 in Germany, and vaccines are months away.
Trying to move forward without being led by testing would, in the words of the chief of the World Health Organization, be like trying to 'fight a fire blindfolded'.
Officials have diagnosed just 65,000 people with the coronavirus in the UK but believe up to 10 per cent of the population - 6.6million people - could have had the illness already. 
Scientific estimates vary wildly, with Imperial College experts suggesting 1.98million may have been infected already while Oxford experts say it could be as many as 33million. Without a clearer picture it will be difficult to progress.
Here, MailOnline breaks down what experts say is necessary before Britain can emerge from its standoff with the coronavirus:  
Scientists and experts widely believe large-scale reliable testing for the coronavirus will be key for getting Britain out of its lockdown.
Around 65,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 since the outbreak began but tests are only being done on hospital patients and NHS staff.
Around 15,000 tests are carried out each day to reveal who was infected at the time they were tested.
A huge roll-out of testing spots people who are ill and might spread the disease, so they can be isolated to protect the people around them.
Society won't be safe from the virus unless officials are fast to catch and isolate all cases or local outbreaks, or to build up a clear idea of what proportion of people are immune because they've had it already.
Asked whether the UK could come out of lockdown without rapid mass-testing available, Professor Paul Hunter, an epidemiologist at the University of East Anglia, said: 'We can but whether it would be wise to do it would be another question.'
Swab testing, which detects whether people are currently infected, will be crucial for the fast detection and prevention of any future outbreaks when epidemic subsides (Pictured: A medical worker swabs an NHS employee at a testing station in Wolverhampton)

The UK's coronavirus outbreak appears to be coming out of its rapid acceleration phase this week, Government scientists have cautiously pointed out

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