BRITAIN could be "back to normal" and out of the lockdown by August, an ex World Health Organisation expert has said.
Former Director of the WHO Cancer Programme Professor Karol Sikora said the nation should start hoping "for the best" and moving towards a return to a more normal life out of coronavirus lockdown.
⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates
Professor Sikora, who has a PhD in immunology, wrote: "I think by August things will be virtually back to normal, perhaps sooner.
"We should still prepare for the worst, but hope for the best!"
He said other European countries which have suffered devastating losses from COVID-19 were leading the way by relaxing lockdown.
"I've always been hopeful that by the summer our situation would have dramatically improved.
"Our European friends have shown us the way – easing lockdown can be done safely.
"March & April were awful, May is better, I'm hopeful that in June things will improve significantly."
The oncologist said he had correctly predicted the number of cases and deaths would slow down and the country could ease lockdown in mid-May.
He wrote: "Some laughed at my prediction at the end of March that we would start edging back to normality around the second week in May – it was right!"
Light at the end of the tunnel?
The Government's top scientific advisers have repeatedly said over the last few weeks the scale of the pandemic is on a "downward trend".
Last night, Health Secretary Matt Hancock suggested four out of five of the Government's key tests for ending lockdown had been met.
But Boris Johnson has set out a roadmap for easing lockdown restrictions – which would see some businesses still boarded up until the end of summer.
The Government has already taken the first tentative steps towards bringing Britain back to normal life as people were allowed to spend more time outdoors and go for day trips in England.
People who cannot work from home, were also encouraged to head back to work.
The Government's 50-page document detailing the easing of restrictions said the aim was to "return life to as close as normal as possible, for as many people as possible, as fast and as fairly as possible"
The document added easing lockdown had to be done "in a way that avoids a new epidemic, minimises lives lost and maximises health, economic and social outcomes”.
From June 1, schools will begin to reopen with reception, year one and year six, and in mid-June all non-essential retail shops which haven't opened their doors since March, will be opened back up.
The hospitality sector, however, could face a longer wait to get customers back in – cinemas, pubs and hairdressers may not be able to reopen until Autumn.
Some cafes and restaurants will be allowed to open up socially-distanced outdoor seating in July.
Through the worst of it
Professor Sikora said the UK should be taking smaller, but more frequent steps towards normality.
He said: "We're seeing really encouraging trends across all the data.
"I'm confident that we have turned a corner, we've come a long way in two months.
"Of course there are challenges to come and we're not there yet. but we are far past the worst of this pandemic."
But chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance is less hopeful, saying the UK will have to live in a "new normal" until there is a vaccine or effective treatment.