COVID-19 UPDATE: Monday 6 April
At Downing Street today, Dominic Raab, first secretary of state and Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs gave an update and answered questions regarding the coronavirus outbreak. He was joined by Chris Whitty, chief medical officer and Angela McLean, deputy chief scientific adviser.
PM still in charge
Dominic Raab says the prime minister is now in hospital “as a precaution” but is in "good spirits". He and the rest of the support team is working at “full throttle” to lead the crisis under Boris Johnson’s leadership.
Government’s step-by-step action plan is aimed at slowing the spread
Mr Raab said that, at each stage, the government has been following expert advice and has been “very deliberate” in its actions.
Foreign office: working hard “home and abroad”
The government has repatriated 20,000 people from Spain, 13,000 from Egypt, 8,000 from Indonesia – and 2,000 people from seven other countries.
This work continues for the travellers still abroad. Dominic Raab confirmed that the foreign office is doing everything it can to keep airports open and to charter flights where necessary to bring people home.
Lockdown: encouraging news
The stay-at-home efforts of the public "are working", said Professor Angela McLean.
The number of patients being admitted to hospital is "not as bad as it would have been" without this strategy, she added.
When asked how long the current restrictions will continue, Professor Chris Whitty said a "serious discussion" about this will only be possible once the peak of the virus has been reached. Dominic Raab said: "The risk right now is if we take our focus off the strategy, which is beginning to work, we won't get through this peak as soon as we want to."
It’s still "too early" to identify an exit strategy which will by dependent on medical and socio-economic factors such as vaccines, testing and ensuring emergency care is still accessible. Chris Whitty said: "We have to balance all of these different elements and it is a complicated set."