06:32 GMT05 December 2020
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    The UK last week embarked on a phased reopening of the country following an over two-month freeze induced by the coronavirus crunch, with parks, non-essential shops, and zoos resuming operation.

    British Health Secretary Matt Hancock Wednesday hailed the use of a steroid called dexamethasone for treating coronavirus patients as "the best pieces of news" to date in the COVID healthcare crisis.

    Britain's Health Secretary Matt Hancock chairs the Daily COVID-19 Digital News Conference with Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam and 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.
    © REUTERS / Andrew Parsons/10 Downing St
    Britain's Health Secretary Matt Hancock chairs the Daily COVID-19 Digital News Conference with Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam and 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.

    Trial results announced on Tuesday showed dexamethasone, which is used to fight inflammation in other diseases such as arthritis, successfully reduced death rates by around a third among those patients admitted to hospital with the most severe COVID symptoms.

    "It does increase your chances of survival quite significantly", Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News, adding all patients will immediately receive the drug.

    He mentioned that the R-rate was below 1 in all regions, but did not clarify if he was speaking about England or the entire United Kingdom.

    Addressing the second wave issue raised by critics of the corona lockdown easing, Hancock stressed it has always "got to be a concern". He further stressed that the country "must not re-import the virus from elsewhere", insisting that an appropriate quarantine programme should be worked out.

    The news of the first proven effective treatment for COVID-19, a widely available and inexpensive steroid, gave cause for fresh hope that the pandemic would be soon dealt with.

    "This is great news and I congratulate the government of the UK, the University of Oxford, and the many hospitals and patients in the UK who have contributed to this lifesaving scientific breakthrough", said the head of the World Health Organisation, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

    Researchers led by a team from the University of Oxford administered dexamethasone to more than 2,000 patients with severe COVID symptoms.

    Since 1 June, the UK has embarked on fulfilling the phased exit from the coronavirus-induced lockdown in line with the previously announced roadmap, with the regulations first easing on walks outdoors, in private gardens, or public spaces. This week has ushered in the second stage of the lockdown relaxation, which overseas the reopening of non-essential stores, as well as zoos and theme parks, while sending pupils back to classrooms this summer is still an undecided question.

    Regarding tourism and travel, all new arrivals in the country are required to quarantine for 14 days and share the contact details of the place where they are staying, or otherwise face penalties.

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    lockdown, Oxford, laboratory, cure, drugs, coronavirus, COVID-19
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