Boris Johnson: 'The situation is going to get worse before it gets better'

31 March 2020, 12:12

The Cabinet took place via video conference
The Cabinet took place via video conference. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

During a Cabinet meeting, the Prime Minister said "the situation is going to get worse before it gets better - but it will get better" as senior ministers took part by videolink.

This is believed to be the first Cabinet meeting where senior ministers take place from their homes and offices after Boris Johnson and a number of other Cabinet minister tested positive for coronavirus.

Health Secretary Matt Hanock tested positive for Covid-19 while England's Chief Medical Officer was self-isolating after showing symptoms.

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A Downing Street spokesman said only Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill and a small number of officials were in the Cabinet room itself, observing social distancing rules on keeping two metres apart.

Updates on the Government's coronavirus response were given by videoconference by chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and England's chief medical officer Chris Whitty.

The Downing Street spokesman said: "The PM said the rising death toll in recent days showed the vital importance of the public continuing to stick to the social distancing guidance which has been put in place by the Government, based on scientific and medical advice.

"The message to the public is: stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives.

"The PM said that the situation is going to get worse before it gets better - but it will get better."

Announcing ministerial plans for Tuesday, a spokeswoman said: "Home Secretary Priti Patel will announce today that NHS visas are extended until the end of the year, as well as making changes to tier two eligibility.

"Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has announced that children eligible for free school meals will benefit from a national voucher scheme allowing them to continue to access meals whilst they stay at home.

"Schools can now provide every eligible child with a weekly shopping voucher worth £15 to spend at supermarkets while schools are closed due to coronavirus.

"The Home Office will confirm that from tomorrow no member of the public should have to pay for 101 non-emergency calls to the police. "

A daily coronavirus press conference is expected to take place in the afternoon.