Boris Johnson says lockdown stays amid ‘huge loss of life’ threat

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All the latest coronavirus updates and breaking news as Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes a statement outside Downing Street on his first day back after battling coronavirus.

He said amid the threat of "a second spike" lockdown must remain but added: "I have absolutely no doubt we will beat it and the UK will emerge even stronger."

Health minister Edward Argar told LBC radio he was confident the Government was on target to reach 100,000 coronavirus tests per day this week.

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However, much has changed in his absence – including the soaring death toll for many parts of the country, including Merseyside.

The Royal Mint is to manufacture nearly two million medical visors to help protect NHS staff from coronavirus across England and Wales.

The weekend saw Liverpool pass a grim milestone when it was recorded that more than 300 people had died on Saturday.

A further 13 people have died in Merseyside hospitals with coronavirus symptoms, NHS England reported on Sunday.

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The figures showed a decline in the rate of increase in deaths – but people have been warned not to put too much emphasis on daily variations, while weekend figures have generally been lower than those on weekdays due to reporting variations.

Across Liverpool, nine more deaths were recorded – eight at the Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and one at Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital.

Elsewhere, Wirral saw no new deaths recorded, and it was a similar picture in St Helens and Knowsley.

A third of doctors treating patients in high-risk Covid-19 settings are often still unable to access adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), a survey has found.

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) reports that more than a third of those working in aerosol generating procedure (AGP) areas could not always access long-sleeved disposable gowns (31%) or full-face visors (37%).

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Boris Johnson on the need to be patient

Ben Turner-LE

Boris Johnson's statement in full

Prime Minister Boris Johnson thanked those who had "stepped up" in his absence, including his stand-in Dominic Raab.

He said he had been "away from my desk for much longer than I would've liked".

Boris Johnson makes an address outside Downing Street live on Sky News

Addressing the nation he said: "Once again I want to thank you the people of this country for the sheer grit and guts you've shown and are continuing to show.

"Every day I know that this virus brings new sadness and mourning to households across the land."

Mr Johnson continued: "It is still true that this is the biggest single challenge this country has faced since the war and I in no way minimise the continuing problems we face.

"And yet it is also true that we are making progress with fewer hospital admissions, fewer Covid patients in ICU and real signs now that we are passing through the peak.

"And thanks to your forbearance, your good sense your altruism, your spirit of community, thanks to our collective national resolve, we are on the brink of achieving that first clear mission to prevent our National Health Service from being overwhelmed in a way that tragically we have seen elsewhere.

"And that is how and why we are now beginning to turn the tide."

Mr Johnson, drawing on his own battle with Covid-19 which put him in intensive care, said: "If this virus were a physical assailant, an unexpected and invisible mugger – which I can tell you from personal experience, it is – then this is the moment when we have begun together to wrestle it to the floor.

"And so it follows that this is the moment of opportunity, this is the moment when we can press home our advantage, it is also the moment of maximum risk.

"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."

He said he understood "how hard and stressful it has been to give up, even temporarily, those ancient and basic freedoms".

But he said the potential of a second spike in cases risked "economic disaster".

Mr Johnson added: "And so I know it is tough. And I want to get this economy moving as fast as I can, but I refuse to throw away all the effort and the sacrifice of the British people and to risk a second major outbreak and huge loss of life and the overwhelming of the NHS.

"And I ask you to contain your impatience, because I believe we are coming now to the end of the first phase of this conflict and in spite of all the suffering we have so nearly succeeded.

"We defied so many predictions. We did not run out of ventilators or ICU beds. We did not allow our NHS to collapse, and on the contrary we have so far collectively shielded our NHS so that our incredible doctors and nurses and healthcare staff have been able to shield all of us from an outbreak that would have been far worse and we collectively flattened the peak."

Mr Johnson added: "And so when we are sure that this first phase is over and that we are meeting our five tests: deaths falling, NHS protected, rate of infection down, really sorting out the challenges of testing and PPE, avoiding a second peak, then that will be the time to move on to the second phase in which we continue to suppress the disease and keep the reproduction rate – the R rate – down, but begin gradually to refine the economic and social restrictions and one-by-one to fire up the engines of this vast UK economy.

"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, though clearly the Government will be saying much more about this in the coming days."

Mr Johnson said in terms of discussions about changes to restrictions: "We will also be reaching out to build the biggest possible consensus across business, across industry, across all parts of our United Kingdom, across party lines, bringing in opposition parties as far as we possibly can.

"I think that's no less than what the British people would expect."

Mr Johnson also encouraged people to keep up with social distancing measures, adding: "If you can keep going in the way that you have kept going so far.

"If you can help protect our NHS to save lives.

"If we as a country can show the same spirit of optimism and energy shown by Captain Tom Moore who turns 100 this week.

"If we can show the same spirit of unity and determination as we have all shown in past six weeks, I have absolutely no doubt that we will beat it, together we will come through this all the faster and the United Kingdom will emerge stronger than ever before."

Ben Turner-LE

"Maximum risk"

Boris Johnson said: "This is the moment that we have together wrestled it (coronavirus) to the floor" but said going easy too soon presented "a maximum risk" of a second spike which would bring even tougher restrictions and economic damage.

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"Risk of second spike"

Boris Johnson said he shared frustrations of the lockdown.

But warned: "I share your urgency, it's the government's urgency but yet we also must recognise the risk of a second spike and the risk of losing control of that virus and letting the reproduction rate above 1."

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"I know how hard and stressful it has been"

Boris Johnson said: "I know how hard and stressful it has been to give up, even temporarily, the basic freedoms, not seeing friends, loved ones, working from home, managing the kids and worrying about your job and your firm."

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"No doubt we will beat it"

Boris Johnson added: "I have absolutely no doubt we will beat it and the UK will emerge even stronger."

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"Avoiding second peak time will be time to lift restrictions"

Boris Johnson describes the virus as an "invisible mugger" which he says has personal experience of.

Says the country has hit the peak.

Congratulates the public's grit and determination.

Says easing lockdown early woud be a disaster and mean the need to reimpose restrictions and risk a second wave.

"We have so nearly succeeded."

"We have collectively shielded our NHS."

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Latest updates as Boris Johnson makes statement outside Downing Street

We will be bringing you the latest from Downing Street where returning Boris Johnson makes a statement. As you can see things being put in place in readiness.

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New Zealand lockdown eased

New Zealand is preparing to ease rules on a strict lockdown put in place to limit the spread of coronavirus.

The country reported five new Covid-19 cases on Monday but has not seen widespread community transition and will allow a partial reopening of the economy.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the country has so far managed to avoid the worst scenarios for an outbreak and would continue to hunt down the last few cases.

From midnight on Monday, certain businesses such as construction will be allowed to reopen, but social distancing rules will still apply.

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"Good luck boss"

Health minister Nadine Dorries tweeted: "Most who have been as poorly as @BorisJohnson with £Covid19 and a patient for a week in intensive care, would be off work for least three months to fully recover their strength and repair their immune system.

"Our PM is back after just three weeks. Good luck boss."

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Confident on 100,000 tests target

Health minister Edward Argar told LBC radio he was confident the Government was on target to reach 100,000 coronavirus tests per day this week.

A further 70,000 people will need to be tested on a daily basis to meet the target set by Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

"The target is still very much there. It is a Government target and we are massively ramping up the efforts to do this," he said.

"There is a few days to go but we are confident that we are on target for that, not least with the expansion last week with who is eligible to actually access those tests now.

"It is huge numbers of people and we have seen how many have tried to access those tests in the past few days.

"I expect we will see exponential increases every day up to that target being met."

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Bars set to re-open in Italy

Bars and restaurants are set to re-open in Italy in June, giving hope that venues in Britain may eventually follow.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced on Sunday that Italy will ease its coronavirus lockdown on May 4, over two months since the country's first reported Covid-19 case. The country has endured over 26,000 deaths to date.

Initially building sites and limited family visits will be allowed, reports the Mirror, before measures are eased again in June with bars and restaurants being allowed to reopen.

The British Government has not yet revealed its exit strategy.

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Health Minister rules out easing lockdown restrictions at the moment

Health Minister Edward Argar has told Sky News this morning that "now is not the time to let up" on easing of lockdown restrictions and open schools.

He said: "We are not out of the woods yet which is why restrictions need to stay in place."

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Australians sign up to tracking app

Australians have been quick to embrace their government's new voluntary coronavirus tracking app, despite some privacy concerns.

The government had hoped one million people would download COVIDSafe within five days after it was launched on Sunday evening.

But by Monday morning, more than 1.1 million people had installed it.

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10 to 20 years of financial hurt

The UK's recovery from coronavirus is likely to be slower and shallower than first hoped and Britons will be paying for action to save the economy for the next two decades, a former Bank of England rate-setter has warned.

Ian McCafferty – who sat on the Bank's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) for six years until August 2018 – said if the lockdown is lifted gradually in phases as expected, the economy could take at least six months to get back on track.

And he cautioned the upswing is set to be less steep than the sharp contraction – meaning previous hopes of a 'V' shaped sharp rebound in growth, or even a 'U' shape, may be too optimistic.

Speaking to the PA news agency, Mr McCafferty said the actions by the Bank and Government were "exactly what's needed" to prop up the economy, but said there will be "fiscal consequences".

He said households and businesses face the grim prospect of tax hikes and austerity to cut Britain's ballooning public deficit once the immediate crisis is over.

"We will have to pay for the fiscal action that's been required – over the next 10 to 20 years, fiscal policy will have to adapt," he said.

"Growth will not be sufficient on its own."

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Doctors survey highlights PPE shortage

A third of doctors treating patients in high-risk Covid-19 settings are often still unable to access adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), a survey has found.

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) reports that more than a third of those working in aerosol generating procedure (AGP) areas could not always access long-sleeved disposable gowns (31%) or full-face visors (37%).

Ben Turner-LE

The Royal Mint to make nearly two million visors for NHS

The Royal Mint is to manufacture nearly two million medical visors to help protect NHS staff from coronavirus across England and Wales.

Engineers developed a successful prototype in 48 hours, and already 150,000 have been made for hospitals.

Production has moved to 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at the Royal Mint's site in Llantrisant, South Wales.

The Royal Mint, which is more commonly known for making coins and investment products, has transformed its visitor attraction into an emergency production line – making more than 100,000 medical visors per week.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, who is also Master of the Mint, said: "It's vital our brave NHS workers have the protective equipment they need to safely care for those affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

"I applaud the Royal Mint for refocusing their efforts and working around the clock to play their part during this national emergency."

Companies including Brammer, TJ Morgan and Technical Foam Services have worked with the Royal Mint to source the components needed.

In addition to producing medical visors, the Royal Mint has worked closely with the NHS to provide other support, including helping to design and print Covid-19 awareness cards for staff at the Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board.

Anne Jessopp, chief executive of the Royal Mint, added: "We want to play our part in the fight against coronavirus by providing NHS staff with the protective equipment they need to keep the nation and themselves safe.

"When people think of the Royal Mint, they think about the coins in their pockets, but we've been making useful products for the nation for 1,100 years and have a team of skilled designers, engineers and production staff.

"Together they turned a rudimentary visor design into a working model in just 48 hours, and within a week we were manufacturing thousands per day."

Government stance on the Premier League

First Secretary of State Dominic Raab has hinted that the Premier League could return this summer thanks to the level of coronavirus testing that is soon to be carried out.

Speaking on Sunday, he said professional sport “may be different” to amateur gatherings because of the scale of testing.

Terrified dad dying of coronavirus told son 'I'm not ready to go'

The son of a devoted family man described the moment his dad called to say ‘I’m not ready to go” as he was transferred into a coronavirus ward.

Popular “adopted Scouser” David Clark, 57, had survived many health battles related to his Type 1 diabetes over the years, including a kidney transplant, but COVID-19 proved too much and he died in Whiston Hospital on April 9.

His son Paul Clark spoke to the ECHO about his memories of his father, including the traumatic moment he was taken into a coronavirus ward.

Read the full tribute here.

Boris Johnson spotted returning to Downing Street

Boris Johnson was spotted arriving via the back entrance of the Prime Minister’s residence at No. 10 Downing Street on Sunday evening, the Daily Mail reports.

His arrival marks the end of a three-week absence, including a week in hospital where the PM was said to be fighting for life after being diagnosed with coronavirus.