Coronavirus battle will be over in 'months, not weeks'

14 April 2020, 07:43

The Work and Pensions Secretary said the battle will take months not weeks
The Work and Pensions Secretary said the battle will take months not weeks. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said we are talking about a battle against coronavirus "that isn't going to be over in weeks, it will take months".

With the UK three weeks into lockdown due to coronavirus and acting Prime Minister Dominic Rabb telling the country the the UK was "starting to win this struggle" one Minister has said restrictions will not be eased for months.

Details of how the lockdown will eventually be lifted remain unclear, however, with the Government repeatedly refusing to outline its "exit strategy".

Scientists advising the Government are expected to meet this week to review the latest figures, but Mr Raab insisted it was crucial that "we do not take our eye off the ball" with regards to social distancing.

Speaking to Sky News about the use of masks by the general public being under review, Ms Coffey said: "So far the medical advice has been that it is only really needed in a clinical setting and it is not necessary for people, by use in public.

"As was set out, if that evidence changes then of course we will review that but thus far I'm not aware of any change that's required in order to make sure that masks become a general way of life for people.

"On the contrary, the advice is still very firm - you do not and should not be wearing masks outside unless you've had clinical instructions to do so."

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On Universal Credit, she added: "Well listen, we're up to about 1.4 million people who have claimed Universal Credit and also other people who have claimed other things like Jobseeker's Allowance or Employment Support Allowance.

"So we are capable of processing and managing those claims."

Ms Coffey added: "People will start to receive financial support if they haven't already had an advance."

On the 28 February cut-off date for the Government's Job Retention Scheme, the Work and Pensions Secretary said she is "conscious of that" but that "people can go back to their original employers to ask to be furloughed".