- The UK is “past the peak” of its coronavirus outbreak and “on the downward slope,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday.
- At the government’s daily press conference, Johnson said that next week he would unveil “a comprehensive plan” for reopening the economy, schools, and workplaces.
- The government is set to decide next week whether to extend the nationwide lockdown.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The UK is past the peak of its coronavirus outbreak, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday.
Speaking at the government’s daily press conference for the first since being hospitalised with the virus earlier this month, Johnson said, “I can confirm today that for the first time we are past the peak of this disease. We’re past the peak, and we’re on the downward slope.”
Johnson said that “we have so many reasons to be hopeful for the long term.”
“The UK is leading international efforts to find a vaccine. Today, Oxford University has announced a partnership with AstraZeneca to develop what they believe could soon be a means of inoculating ourselves against this disease.
“But until this day comes — and I’m afraid we cannot say exactly when it may be — we’re going to have to beat this disease by our growing resolve and ingenuity.”
The UK prime minister said that next week he would unveil “a comprehensive plan” for eventually reopening the economy, schools, and workplaces. But he added that it was too soon to relax lockdown measures.
Johnson and senior government ministers and officials are set to decide next week whether to extend the lockdown measures or modify them. The UK government has said that it could both relax and tighten the measures.
Johnson said that the R0, or “R naught” — the rate at which the virus spreads among people — was below 1, as a result of people’s adherence to the social-distancing measures his government introduced last month.
He said his government would lift the measures only if it could keep that value below 1, to avoid a second spike in coronavirus infections.
He played a video clip produced by Downing Street explaining the government’s strategy:
—UK Prime Minister (@10DowningStreet) April 30, 2020
Johnson said on Thursday that 674 people who tested positive for the coronavirus had died in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 26,711 deaths in the UK.
“Families every day are continuing to lose loved ones before their time,” Johnson said. “We grieve for them and with them.”
The prime minister added that the country had succeeded in preventing the National Health Service from being overwhelmed.
“We have so far succeeded in the first and most important task we set ourselves as a nation: to avoid the tragedy that engulfed other parts of the world,” Johnson said. “Because at no stage has our NHS been overwhelmed. No patient went without a ventilator. No patient was deprived of intensive care.”
Johnson also signalled that his government would soon advise Brits to wear face coverings.
“I do think that face coverings will be useful, both for epidemiological reasons but also for giving people confidence that they can go back to work,” he said.
The UK is on course to become the European country with the highest number of coronavirus deaths, with Johnson’s government now including people who died outside of hospitals in its daily coronavirus figures.
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