Boris Johnson is back leading his first daily press briefing in over a month
The Prime Minister is back at today’s Downing Street coronavirus press conference, joined by the Chief Medical Officer for England Chris Whitty and the government’s Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance.
The PM has thanked the NHS for “getting me back here” after he was treated in an intensive care unit at St Thomas’ hospital for the coronavirus.
The UK is ” past the peak of this disease”
The prime minister has said “we are past the peak of this disease” and we are “on the downward slope”.
UK close to its 100,000 daily testing target
Prime Minister Boris Johnson says 81,611 people were tested for coronavirus yesterday, an increase of almost 30,000 on the day before.
This takes the government 80% of the way to meeting its goal of doing 100,000 daily coronavirus tests by today, the last day of April.
Up until recently, the government was carrying out about 20,000 tests a day, so this means it has quadrupled testing numbers.
A member of the public asks a question about the support available to people suffering mental health problems as a result of the lockdown.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson says this has been a “major issue”.
He says work to reduce the number of Covid-19 cases has freed up time for the NHS to help with other heath issues.
He adds there is an impact on health that means the government does not want to prolong the lockdown “any longer than it needs to be”.
Prof Chris Whitty, the UK’s chief medical adviser, says people should “call someone” if they need help, and there are “a lot of people out there keen to help you”.
Must the UK economy wait?
Boris is asked that if by continuing the lockdown, he believes the economy will just have to wait.
“We mourn for every life lost and we mourn for the economic damage as well… and for the dreams people are seeing shattered in their businesses.”
The PM says the government has made “a huge effort” to look after workers, with furlough schemes and loans, and is doing “everything we can”.
But he adds: “It is absolutely vital if we are to bounce back as strongly as I think we can that we don’t have a second bout of this, a second bad spike, because that would do lasting economic damage.
“That is why we have to calibrate our measures so carefully, making sure not only to unlock the economy gradually, but to find ways of continuing to suppress the disease.”
Johnson is asked about his own experiences with COVID-19
The next reporter asks if having coronavirus has changed the PM’s approach to tackling the outbreak.
Boris Johnson says: “I was very, very lucky. I had wonderful care, wonderful treatment, and let’s be frank, it is a tragedy thousands of people have been less fortunate that I was.”
But he says the objective of the government is “to save lives across this country and minimise the suffering this epidemic is causing and going to cause”.
Johnson says it has been the objective “from the beginning and it is not going to change”.