Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has warned that a “second spike” in coronavirus would trigger a second lockdown that would “prolong the economic pain we are all going through”.
Mr Raab, who is deputising for the Prime Minister, told a press conference in London that strict measures in place across the UK cannot be lifted yet.
He said: “We are making progress through the peak of this virus but we’re not out of the woods yet, as Sage (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) advised last week.
“That’s why the measures we introduced must remain in place for the time being.
“The greatest risk for us now, if we eased up on our social distancing rules too soon, is that we would risk a second spike in the virus with all the threats to life that would bring and then the risk of a second lockdown which would prolong the economic pain we are all going through.”
He said that testing will “play a really important role in the next phase of the crisis”.
Also speaking at the press conference, Professor Chris Whitty – chief medical officer for England – said the public should not expect the number of Covid-19 deaths to “fall away” suddenly.
He told a Downing Street press briefing: “Even in those countries which started their epidemic curve earlier than in the UK, and which are still ahead, the downward slope from the point which we change is a relatively slow one.
“We should anticipate the same situation in the UK. We should not expect this to be a sudden fall away of cases.”
More to follow.