Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that Britain was beginning to “turn the tide” on the novel coronavirus outbreak but rejected calls to ease a nationwide lockdown.
His statement came after he made his first public appearance Monday (April 27) since being stricken with the coronavirus three weeks ago.
In a statement in Downing Street marking his return to work, Johnson apologised for being away “for much longer than I would have liked”.
He thanked the British people for heeding more than a month of stay-at-home orders, saying their action had helped ensure the state-run National Health Service (NHS) had not become overwhelmed.
“That is how and why we are now beginning to turn the tide,” Johnson said, echoing his promise on March 19 that Britain could turn the tide on the outbreak in three months if people followed social distancing rules.
But more than 20,000 people have already died in Britain, not including deaths in care homes and in the wider community, making it one of the worst-hit countries in the global pandemic. Britain recorded 360 more deaths on Monday, its lowest daily toll since last month.
Johnson acknowledged growing demands for the lockdown to be lifted to reduce the economic impact, but insisted now was not the time. “I refuse to throw away all the effort and the sacrifice of the British people and to risk a second major outbreak, a huge loss of life and the overwhelming of the NHS,” he said.