UK coronavirus lockdown extended by 3 weeks
Now is not time to give coronavirus second chance, says Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on eventually easing restrictions
The British government extended the country’s lockdown by three weeks as health authorities announced on Thursday that the U.K.-wide death toll from coronavirus rose 861 in the last 24 hours.
The Department of Health reported: “327,608 people have been tested of which 103,093 tested positive.
“As of 5pm on 15 April, of those hospitalised in the UK who tested positive for coronavirus, 13,729 have sadly died.”
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told the daily press briefing: “The government has decided that the current measures must remain in place for at least the next three weeks.”
Raab is deputizing for Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he recovers from a bout of the virus.
He said the decision came following advice from the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).
Raab said SAGE cautioned that “relaxing any of the measures in place” would “risk damage to both public health and the economy” by leading to a resurgence of the virus.
“The worst thing we could do is ease up too soon. It would be the worst outcome not just for public health but the economy and the country as a whole,” he said.
“We must keep up this national effort for a while longer,” Raab said, adding that the U.K. is in a “delicate stage.”
“Now is not the moment to give coronavirus a second chance,” he said.
Raab set out five factors that will be taken into account over when the lockdown will be lifted: if the National Health Service can cope, a sustained and consistent fall in the daily death rate, the rate of infection falling to manageable levels, sufficient testing and personal protective equipment to meet demand, and no second peak.
Globally, more than 2.09 million people have been infected by coronavirus, with the death toll nearing 140,000, according to data compiled by the U.S.’ Johns Hopkins University. Over 528,700 have recovered from the pandemic so far.