Coronavirus: Britain will be 'virtually back to normal' by August, says ex-WHO expert

May 27, 2020

Britain could be out of lockdown and "virtually back to normal" by August, according to a former World Health Organisation expert.

Professor Karol Sikora, who was director of the body's cancer programme from 1997 until 1999, has been a regular commentator on the coronavirus pandemic on Twitter.

He tweeted on Wednesday: "Some laughed at my prediction at the end of March that we would start edging back to normality around the second week in May - it was right!

"I think by August things will be virtually back to normal, perhaps sooner. We should still prepare for the worst, but hope for the best!"

The oncologist, who holds a PhD in immunology, also told The Sun that other European countries with devastatingly high death tolls - such as Italy - had led the way with easing coronavirus restrictions.

He said March and April "were awful, May is better", and was "hopeful that in June things will improve significantly".

"I've always been hopeful that by the summer our situation would have dramatically improved," he added.

Professor Sikora's tweet regarding his earlier predictions divided opinion, with some users commenting that it was insensitive to brag given the tens of thousands of lives lost.

"About 60,000 dead and you are concerned that you predicted non-essential shops would open in June," one said.

More than 37,400 people have died after testing positive for COVID-19 in the UK, across all settings.

After 10 weeks of lockdown, thousands of high street shops, department stores and markets across England can start reopening from next month.

At Monday's daily news briefing in Downing Street, which was overshadowed by Dominic Cummings's response to allegations he broke lockdown rules, Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlined which businesses could begin trading again from Monday, 1 June, under the second step of his plan to "unlock the lockdown".

Outdoor markets and car showrooms will be allowed to reopen, while all other non-essential retailers - including shops selling clothes and indoor markets - can follow suit two weeks later.

Among the businesses to remain closed include hairdressers, nail bars, beauty salons, and hospitality sector firms including cinemas and pubs, where the government says the risk of transmission is higher.

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Mr Johnson also announced he will press ahead with the planned reopening of schools from 1 June, initially encompassing pupils in reception, year one and year six.

However, it may not be possible for all schools to start classes again then.

The schools minister has said he expects most pupils to continue learning from home until September.

Next week from Monday to Thursday, Dermot Murnaghan will be hosting After the Pandemic: Our New World - a series of special live programmes about what our world will be like once the pandemic is over.

We'll be joined by some of the biggest names from the worlds of culture, politics, economics, science and technology. And you can take part too.

If you'd like to be in our virtual audience - from your own home - and put questions to the experts, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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