Dr Jenny Harries said the new lockdown implemented in Leicester after a local hike in the number of coronavirus infections, is a “very good lesson” for the rest of the country. She did not refuse the possibility of a new wave of Covid-19 cases in the UK – or even a second peak.
However, she insisted localised outbreaks would be acted upon to prevent further spread.
Dr Harries addressed news outlets at a Downing Street briefing on Thursday.
It was first Covid-19 briefing from Number 10 since daily press conferences came to a halt over a week ago.
Asked about the effect of students’ return to the classrooms in September, she and Education Secretary Gavin Williamson denied that Leicester’s spike in coronavirus infections had been caused to some pupils already returning to school last month.
Dr Harries said: “For Leicester, clearly it’s not just the teenagers.
“What we’re seeing is a community transmission, a rise in cases across the community.
“I think it is, sadly for Leicester, a very good lesson for the rest of the country in a way.
“We all need to, as we go forward with the easing of lockdown measures, still to be really careful about how we interact with others about social distancing, about washing your hands.”
For most, it was the first time going back to the classrooms as schools shut in March to all students except children of key workers and those in vulnerable households.
Dr Harries was questioned about the possibility of implementing a shutting down schools again, should there be a second peak of Covid-19 cases.
Dr Harries said: “I think a second wave is quite a possibility, that is not ruled out at all.
“A second peak, as in an epidemic peak, another one, is also not ruled out.
“In fact, in pandemics, you can sometimes see successive ones – so we’re talking about a second, but you can get waves and waves.