UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that the country is “beginning to turn the tide” on coronavirus but is also at the “moment of maximum risk”, as he returned to work in Downing Street.
Mr Johnson delivered a statement outside No.10 Downing Street on Monday, in what was his first public comments since the day he was discharged from hospital. Mr Johnson spent nearly a week in hospital earlier this month after experiencing worsening COVID-19 symptoms, during which time he was also moved into intensive care for three days.
In Mr Johnson’s absence, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab had been leading the government’s response to COVID-19, however, it is understood that the Prime Minister will now resume all prime ministerial duties, including by chairing Monday’s “C-19” morning meetings of senior ministers.
Speaking on Monday, Mr Johnson said that moving too quickly and easing restrictions would risk “a second major outbreak”. He added that it may also require the government to “slam the brakes” on the economy for a second time.
Johnson said that the government would only adjust rules, as the government had said before, when there are clear signs that the death rate and infection rate is falling, and that there is enough capacity to cope with another phase. Mr Johnson said;
“That will be the time to move on to the second phase in which we continue to suppress the disease and really keep the reproduction rate, the R rate, down but begin gradually to refine to economic and social restrictions and one by one to fire up the engines of this vast U.K. economy”
“We simply cannot spell out now how fast, or slow or even when those changes will be made, though clearly the government will be saying much more about this in the coming days.”
Mr Johnson urged people to stick with the lockdown measures, saying “I refuse to throw away all the effort and the sacrifice of the British people and to risk a second major outbreak and huge loss of life and the overwhelming of the NHS. I ask you to contain your impatience.”
Photo Credit: Pippa Fowles / No 10 Downing Street under licence (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)