She estimated that the number of virus infections could peak within 12 weeks. The health authorities will review in three weeks whether restrictive measures have had an impact on the slope of the infection curve.
"So, I think, three weeks for review, two or three months to see whether we really squashed it and about three to six months ideally... to see at which point we can actually get back to normal. And it is plausible that it could go further than that," Harries told reporters.
She warned that if the social distancing proved to be successful it would be quite dangerous to suddenly revert to the normal way of living.
"If we stop then all of our efforts will be wasted and we could potentially see a second peak... We need to keep that lead on and then gradually we will be able to hopefully adjust some of the social distancing measures," she explained.
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the UK has reached 19,522 and a total of 1,228 patients have died from coronavirus-related complications.