RELAXING lockdown rules now creates a 'very high probability' that the coronavirus outbreak will get 'out of control'.

That is the warning from 18 Oxford University scientists who have signed an open letter to the government.

The academics, many of whom work in infectious diseases, have warned: "If this happens, all of the societal and financial sacrifices of the lockdown will have gone to waste, and we will likely experience a full blown second wave.

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"This would inevitably lead to a second lockdown, which could be more damaging and harder to implement."

The scientists have urged the government to reconsider and called on ministers to 'follow the science' and postponing the relaxation of lockdown.

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Large groups of people started gathering on Port Meadow in Oxford late last month. Picture: Joe Cook

Under the latest plans to lift lockdown, primary schools were expected to start re-admitting pupils in reception, Year 1 and Year 6 from June 1.

In England, groups of up to six people are allowed to meet up anywhere outdoors as long as they stay 2 metres apart.

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The NHS has started rolling out its national Test and Trace scheme, under which anyone diagnosed with the virus is asked to provide contact details for people they have been in close contact with, who will then themselves be asked to go into self-isolation.

Dentists can reopen from Monday, June 8, if they put appropriate measures in place, and from Monday, June 15, face coverings will become mandatory on public transport in England.

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When Boris Johnston announced his timeline for lifting lockdown on May 10, he said he was hopeful that cafes, restaurants and hairdressers would start reopening from early July, so long as the number of coronavirus cases had continued to fall.

According to the Official for National Statistics this week, the number of people infected with coronavirus in homes in England has fallen to 5,600 a day from 8,000 last week

However the scientists signing the letter said the UK was still experiencing one of the worst outbreaks in the world, and had the highest total death count in Europe – 39,904 at the time they were writing.

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They concluded: "The level of transmission is still far too high for lockdown to be released, and should not be attempted before we have a substantial and sustained further drop in community transmission.

"We need effective test, track and trace capacity to be implemented, transparent reporting of new case diagnoses in community and primary care setting on a daily basis, and the implementation of routine screening for high risk key worker professions and settings to prevent asymptomatic transmission chains.

"These steps must be combined with clear government messaging."