Dominic Raab warns lockdown will continue and 'we are not past the peak of coronavirus'

13 April 2020, 17:26

Mr Raab has warned the UK is not yet past the peak
Mr Raab has warned the UK is not yet past the peak. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

The First Secretary has warned government "does not expect" to relax lockdown measures as the UK is not past the peak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking at the government's daily press briefing, Dominic Raab said: "We are still not past the peak of this virus" while at the same time urging the British public to keep up social distancing measures.

The UK has now entered its fourth week of lockdown, and the government is due to review those measures later this week.

Mr Raab said: "We don't expect to change measures at this point", and added the government would not do so until it was confident the virus can be contained.

Mr Raab suggested "it is still far too early" to talk about the relaxing of measures and the changing of advice and added: "There will come a time in the future where we can talk about relaxation or transition but we are not there now.'

He said: "We are doing a lot of work in government to be guided by the science and the medical advice that you get and I think that, until you have got that evidence, we will be getting ahead of ourselves."

On social distancing, he said: "At the end of last week we were concerned that people might start ignoring the advice or cutting corners given the temptation to go out into the sunshine.

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Sir Patrick Vallance says he expects the death toll to get even higher
Sir Patrick Vallance says he expects the death toll to get even higher. Picture: PA

"In fact the overwhelming majority of people stayed at home and understood the importance of doing so.

"By staying home this weekend, you've saved lives.

"Thank you, your efforts are making all the difference. And please keep them up - we've come too far, we've lost too many loved ones and we've sacrificed too much to ease up now."

The First Secretary, who is acting in the place of Prime Minister Boris Johnson while he recovers from coronavirus, also said there are some "positive signs" from the latest data that show the UK is "starting to win this struggle".

He added: "Our plan is working. Please stick with it and we'll get through this crisis together."

Earlier today it was confirmed the death toll had climbed to 11,329 after another 717 deaths were confirmed in just 24 hours.

Mr Raab made the comments at the daily press conference at Downing Street
Mr Raab made the comments at the daily press conference at Downing Street. Picture: PA

Those deaths are only those which are confirmed in hospitals, and the true death toll is expected to be much higher as others have died at home and in care homes.

It means the UK has more recorded deaths than any county except the US, Italy, Spain and France.

Today was the third day in a row that the numbers of reported deaths have dropped from Friday's peak of 980, but the government's chief scientific advisor Sir Patrick Vallance said he expects the death toll to increase this week before "plateauing".

On the number of hospital deaths of Covid-19, he said the UK is tracking behind Italy and "following the same sort of path".

He added: "I think this week we are going to see a further increase, thereafter we should see a plateau as the effects of social-distancing come through.

"That plateau may last for some time and begin to decrease."

He said the number of people in hospital beds with Covid-19 is beginning to "flatten off" in many parts of the country.

He said it is expected to continue to flatten and decrease as the effects of social-distancing "really feed through into the illness we are seeing in hospital".