- The UK is past the peak of its coronavirus outbreak, Boris Johnson says.
- The prime minister said “we’re past the peak and we’re on the downward slope” on Thursday.
- Johnson at the government’s daily press conference said he would next week unveil a “comprehensive plan” for re-opening the economy, schools, and workplaces.
- The government will decide next week whether to extend the nationwide lockdown.
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The UK is past the peak of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced.
Speaking at the government’s daily press conference for the first since being hospitalised with the virus, Johnson said: “I can confirm today that for the first time we are past the peak of this disease.”
He added: “We’re past the peak and we’re on the downward slope.”
Johnson said “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 am afraid we cannot say exactly when it may be — we will 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 re-opening the economy, schools, and workplaces, but warned that it was too soon to remove lockdown measures.
Johnson and senior government ministers and officials will decide next week whether to extend the lockdown in its current form, or instead modify measures. The UK government has said that it could both relax and tighten measures.
Johnson insisted that the “R” — the rate at which the virus spreads among people — was below one, as a result of the general public’s adherence to the social distancing measures his government introduced last month.
However, he said his UK government would only lift social distancing measures if it could do so while keeping the R below one, in order to avoid a second spike of the coronavirus.
Downing Street has produced a video clip explaining the government’s R strategy.
26,711 people in the UK have died after testing positive for the coronavirus after a further 647 died over the last 24 hours, Prime Minister Johnson said at the press conference.
He said “families every day are continuing to lose loved ones before their time. We grieve for them and with them.”
The prime minister added that the country had succeeded in its aim of 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 be the worst affected country in Europe, with Johnson’s government now including people who have died outside of hospitals in their daily coronavirus figures.
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