The government has confirmed it is extending its coronavirus lockdown.
Dominic Raab said on Thursday: “We’re not done yet. We must keep going.
“The measures will have to stay in place until we have got the evidence that clearly shows we have moved beyond the peak [of the outbreak].”
Raab, who is standing in for Boris Johnson while the prime minister remains in intensive care with coronavirus symptoms, made the announcement as the UK’s COVID-19 death toll rose to 7,978, an increase of 881 from Wednesday.
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The government’s draconian social distancing measures have now been in place for two-and-a-half weeks.
Speaking at Thursday’s coronavirus press conference, Raab went on: “I know these restrictions take their toll – day in, day out – on people’s livelihoods, quality of life, mental health.”
He said how he would usually be “doing an Easter egg hunt” with his two sons over the Easter weekend.
Urging people to stay indoors during the upcoming four-day bank holiday, he went on: “Unfortunately now, we can’t just do those sorts of things. I’m really sorry about that.”
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Raab said: “We are starting to see the impact of the sacrifices we have all made but the deaths are still rising and we haven’t yet reached the peak of the virus – so it’s still too early to list the measures that we’ve put in place.”
“We must stick to the plan,” he added.
Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, said at the same briefing: “The measures that everybody has taken, the difficult things that we’ve all had to do, are making a difference, they’re making a big difference.
“We know that the social distancing is working and we know that people are doing what they’re supposed to do and we need to keep doing that.”
Prime minister Johnson spent a fourth day in intensive care at St Thomas’s Hospital in Westminster on Thursday, though Raab said he is continuing to make “positive steps forward and is in good spirits”.
Earlier on Thursday, Johnson’s official spokesman assured the lockdown measures will not be toughened, though individual police forces will be given “discretion” to enforce them.