Number of new UK COVID-19 cases needs to fall further - health official

Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam speaks during Daily COVID-19 Digital News Conference chaired by Britain's Health Secretary Matt Hancock, along with Professor of Public Health & Epidemiology, Coordinator of the National Testing Effort, Professor John Newton, to update on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at 10 Downing Street in London, Britain May 4, 2020. Andrew Parsons/10 Downing Street/Handout via REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain needs new cases of COVID-19 to fall further, England’s deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam said Monday, even as data indicates that the peak of the coronavirus outbreak has passed.

“It’s now very clear in the data that we are past the peak,” Van-Tam said at a daily news conference. “New cases need to come down further ... we have to get cases lower.”

The British government has set five tests that need to be met before it will start easing a lockdown that has been in place since March 23. One of the five tests is that there has to be reliable data showing that the rate of infection is decreasing to manageable levels across the board.

Reporting by William James and Andy Bruce; writing by Alistair Smout; editing by Estelle Shirbon