London, 27 April 2020 (dpa/MIA) — Britain is “turning the tide” in its fight to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus but must continue social distancing measures to avoid a second peak of infections, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday.
In his first speech since returning to work after his own infection with the virus, Johnson urged the public not to “throw away all the effort and sacrifice” and risk a second peak by lifting Britain’s near-lockdown too early.
“And yet it is also true that we are making progress with fewer hospital admissions, fewer Covid patients in ICU [intensive care units] and real signs now that we are passing through the peak,” he said outside Downing Street.
“I know there will be many people looking at our apparent success and beginning to wonder whether now is the time to go easy on those social distancing measures,” Johnson said, warning that a second peak could lead to “economic disaster.”
The government wants to reduce the number of deaths and infections, protect health services, expand COVID-19 testing programs, and secure a supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health staff before it moves to a “second phase” of responding to the pandemic, he added.
It will then “begin gradually to refine the economic and social restrictions and one-by-one to fire up the engines of this vast UK economy,” Johnson said.
“And in that process, difficult judgments will be made and we simply cannot spell out now how fast or slow or even when those changes will be made.”