The UK government’s chief medical adviser Professor Chris Whitty has said that the country is likely to have social restrictions in place at least for the rest of this year.
Whitty said it was "wholly unrealistic" to expect life to return to normal any time soon and that the ideal way out would be via a "highly effective vaccine" to treat the disease.
"This disease is not going to be eradicated, it is not going to disappear," he said, at the government's daily coronavirus briefing. "So we have to accept that we are working with a disease that we are going to be with globally... for the foreseeable future."
"In the long run, the exit from this is going to be one of two things, ideally," he added. "A vaccine, and there are a variety of ways they can be deployed... or highly effective drugs so that people stop dying of this disease even if they catch it, or which can prevent this disease in vulnerable people."
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, deputising for Prime Minister Boris Johnson who is recovering from the coronavirus, also said that easing social distancing measures too soon would raise the risk of a second wave of infections, which could in turn result in a second lockdown that would "prolong the economic pain" across the country.