Social distancing restrictions need to be in place for “at least most of a year” to control the spread of coronavirus, according to experts advising the government about the pandemic.

Evidence from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), which is advising ministers on the UK’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, has been published by the government.

It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday that the UK could turn the tide against COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, in 12 weeks.

However, evidence from SAGE has cast some doubt on this claim.

It said that while the severity of the social distancing measures could alternate during the period, the stricter provisions would need to be enforced for at least half of the year.

A report by the scientific pandemic influenza group on modelling states: It was agreed that the addition of both general social distancing and school closures to case isolation, household isolation and social distancing of vulnerable groups would be likely to control the epidemic when kept in place for a long period.

It was agreed that a policy of alternating between periods of more and less strict social distancing measures could plausibly be effective at keeping the number of critical care cases within capacity.

These would need to be in place for at least most of a year.

Under such as policy, at least half of the year would be spent under the stricter social distancing measures.

More follows…

(c) Sky News 2020: Coronavirus: Social distancing needs to be in place for most of a year, say government advisers