UK announces another 358 coronavirus deaths bringing total fatalities to 28,491


The UK has announced 358 new coronavirus deaths today, bringing total fatalities to 28,491 and putting the country on course to become the hardest hit in Europe.

This afternoon’s figures, which does not include deaths outside hospital settings, puts Britain’s toll just 219 behind Italy.

NHS England recorded the lion’s share of the deaths with 327 patients passing away in their hospitals.

Patients were aged between 46 and 101 years old and 17 – aged between 47 and 97 years old – had no known underlying health conditions.  

Of those who lost their lives, 56 died on May 2, 125 died on May 1 and 43 died on April 30.  

The figures also show 95 of the new deaths took place between April 1 and April 29 while the remaining eight deaths occurred in March, with the earliest new death taking place on March 28. 

The figures published today by NHS England show April 8 continues to have the highest number. 

It does not include the deaths recorded in care homes which will be included in the Department of Health’s total UK figure published later this afternoon. 

A further 12 died in Scotland, 14 in Wales and five in Northern Ireland, bringing each nation’s total toll to 1,571, 983 and 381, respectively.  

The UK has announced 358 new coronavirus deaths today, bringing total fatalities to 28,491 and putting the country on course to become the hardest hit in Europe

NHS England recorded the lion's share of the deaths with 327 patients passing away in their hospitals (St Thomas' Hospital pictured)

NHS England recorded the lion’s share of the deaths with 327 patients passing away in their hospitals (St Thomas’ Hospital pictured)

Boris Johnson will this week reveal his ‘whack-a-mole’ strategy to ease the coronavirus lockdown and put the UK economy back into gear.

The Prime Minister is expected to reveal his roadmap of proposals to very carefully and slowly lift the restriction in place since late March, but come down hard on any secondary hotspots that emerge.

The first easing of restrictions is not expected to come into force until June, and will be accompanied by the stricter enforcement of breaches of the remaining rules, with fines rising from the current £60 to more than £3,000 for repeat offenders. 

It will include a massive PR blitz urging people who cannot work from home to go in where they can safely, and urging key workers to send their children back to school to free them up for vital tasks.

Public transport will also increase, but will strict social distancing measures at stations and attempts to stagger working hours to reduce the rush hour.

Senior citizens could also lose their free travel during peak times to lower surge numbers further, the Sunday Times reported.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps warned that Britain will not return to ‘business as usual’ this month.

He told Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday: ‘I don’t think we should expect us to go from this situation that we have at the moment of social distancing back to where we were in February – that’s clearly not going to happen and I don’t think anyone imagines that for one moment.’ 

Ministers are concerned that the public have gone beyond the letter of the law introduced when the pandemic began to sweep the nation, according to the Sunday Times.

A senior Whitehall source told the paper: ‘What you are going to see this week is a restatement of what we thought would happen right at the beginning when we first issued the lockdown. 

‘But it’s going to be repackaged as a slow opening up of the economy. Please will construction sites reopen, please will you go to work if you can without hurting people, please if you are a key worker will you send your children to school. 

‘We’ve gone round the houses to get back to where we started.’ 

It came as: 

  • Senior doctors have warned Boris Johnson the lockdown should be eased for over-70s on mental health grounds
  • Minsters were said to be examining plans to re-open some schools from the beginning of June 
  • Some people were found to be enjoying the lockdown, saying it was helping their relationships, they were enjoying work more and plan to spend more time with their children in future 
  • A ban on picnics and visits to beauty spots could be lifted
  • Public transport could return to approaching normal levels of service but with measures in place to limit rush hour numbers 
  • Boris Johnson has revealed that doctors prepared to announce his death in case he lost his coronavirus battle.

New polls today reveal how reluctant Britons are to return to normal while hundreds of people are still dying every day. 

Carrie Symonds and Wilfred yesterday

Boris Johnson

The Prime Minister (right), whose son Wilfred was revealed to the world by mum Carrie Symonds yesterday (left)  is expected to reveal his roadmap of proposals to very carefully and slowly lift the restriction in place since late March, but come down hard on any secondary hotspots that emerge.

Ministers are preparing to lift restrictions on outdoor activities such as picnics as the first stage in relaxing the lockdown rules.

Ministers are preparing to lift restrictions on outdoor activities such as picnics as the first stage in relaxing the lockdown rules. 

More than four in five Britons are against lockdown restrictions being eased for schools, pubs and restaurants this week, according to a poll by Opinium for the Observer. 

Shapps admits more, earlier testing would have saved lives 

Fewer Britons would have died from coronavirus if more tests had been available earlier, a Cabinet minister has admitted, as he warned life would not return to ‘business as usual’ when Boris Johnson sets out his exit strategy.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said ‘many things’ could have been different if the UK’s testing capacity was above 100,000 before Covid-19 spread in the country. More than 28,000 people have now died after testing positive for the virus in the UK.

In an interview with BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show, he was asked whether fewer people would have died if testing capacity had been greater sooner.

Mr Shapps replied: ‘Yes. If we had had 100,000 test capacity before this thing started and the knowledge that we now have retrospectively, I’m sure many things could be different.

‘The fact of the matter is this is not a country that had – although we’re very big in pharmaceuticals as a country – we’re not a country that had very large test capacity.’

Just 17 per cent thought the time was right to consider re-opening schools, with smaller proportions of people thinking conditions had been met to allow cinemas, sporting stadia and nightclubs to open their doors. 

There was also opposition to the reopening of restaurants and pubs – with only 11 per cent agreeing Britain is at a place to reopen eateries and 9 per cent supporting a return to pubs.

Britons more strongly opposed a return to stadium events and nightclubs, with 7 per cent saying conditions have been met for both to resume, compared to 84 per cent who did not.

In the Sunday Times, a YouGov poll found that just 25 per cent of adults would feel safe returning to work and oppose reopening schools by 48 per cent to 28 per cent.

And 59 per cent of people polled by the Sunday Express said they would not feel comfortable going out and do not plan to resume a normal life next month.    

Ministers will aim to tread a fine line between kickstarting economic activity and keeping ‘R’, the reproduction rate of the virus, below 1.  

The number of people who have died in hospitals, care homes and the wider community after testing positive for Covid-19 in the UK as of 5pm on Friday rose to 28,131, up by 621.

The death toll has edged closer to that of Italy, which now stands at 28,710 and is the highest in Europe, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. 

People will only be allowed to do exercise and go on picnics with members of their household and must stay at least two metres (6ft 6in) away from other groups

People will only be allowed to do exercise and go on picnics with members of their household and must stay at least two metres (6ft 6in) away from other groups

Ministers are concerned that the public have gone beyond the letter of the law introduced when the pandemic began to sweep the nation, according to the Sunday Times

Ministers are concerned that the public have gone beyond the letter of the law introduced when the pandemic began to sweep the nation, according to the Sunday Times

Get businesses going again  

The Government’s main priority is getting the economy going again, amid dire statistics about commercial activity and hundreds of billions of pounds flowing out of the treasury to prop up firms and pay the wages of furloughed workers.

‘Discriminatory’ lockdown should be eased for the healthy elderly, say senior doctors

Senior doctors have warned Boris Johnson the lockdown should be eased for over-70s that are considered healthy, due to the damage keeping them inside is doing to their mental health.

Both the Royal College of GPs and the British Medical Association (BMA) weighed in to say that age alone should not be the determining factor when the government establishes who can return to their daily lives as the lockdown is eased, potentially in the coming weeks and months.

Around 1.8 million people classed as ‘clinically vulnerable’ were told to stay indoors for 12 weeks when the lockdown began as they were considered to be the most at-risk people in the UK from Covid-19.

Some ministers have even suggested that such groups could have to stay at home until a vaccine has been developed, which could well take a year or more.

Those in the ‘clinically vulnerable’ category include anyone ‘aged 70 or older regardless of medical condition’, as well as anyone who is younger than 70 with a ‘underlying health condition’.

According to The Times, the doctor’s union said that while it agreed that the most vulnerable people in society must be protected, measures should be determined on individual risk with a system that applies to all ages, and not just ‘an arbitrary age of 60 or 70.’

Martin Marshall, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, warned of the harm a prolonged lockdown would do to the ‘physical and mental’ of those over the age of 70, and that their age is not the best way to determine ‘who should self-isolate and to what extent during the next stage of lockdown’.

The BMA said said in a statement: ‘A blanket ban on any section of the population being prohibited from lockdown easing would be discriminatory and unacceptable.’

It comes as a leading business group urges the Government to be ‘bold’ and not shy away from sustaining high levels of public spending.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) laid out a series of moves for a phased end to the current lockdown in a letter to the PM.

Steps should include safely reopening public spaces, schools and public transport, as well as workplaces and commercial spaces, said the letter. 

Moves should be made to minimise job losses and business failures, putting the UK economy on a ‘high-growth, high-wage and low unemployment trajectory’ as soon as possible. 

 The plans due to be laid out this week are reported to focus on those who work outside, including construction workers, because of science suggesting the virus is harder to catch outdoors. 

 Public transport is likely to return to normal levels and non-food retailers, factories, and warehouses will be encouraged to open.

Work on this has already started: people yesterday flocked to newly reopened DIY stores and rubbish tips.

Orderly queues formed at branches of Homebase, which opened 164 stores, as well as B&Q and Wickes. Costa Coffee drive-throughs were also busy. 

Offices are expected to instruct most of their staff to continue working from home.

But for those who cannot there will be strict rules for office spaces

They include mandatory floor markings to keep staff two metres apart, staggered start times and breaks, limits on how many people can get in lifts and regular deep cleaning, according to the Sunday Express. 

And in a blow to everyone desperate to celebrate the release of the lockdown with a  cold pint in their local, pubs and restaurants are likely to remain closed for weeks or even months longer.

This is because the bring people into close proximity to each other in difficult to control ways. 

But the phased reopening will be accompanied by harder action against those who break social distancing rules.

School is not out for summer

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps this morning told Sky's Sophy Ridge on Sunday: 'It's no secret that of course we want the kids to go back to school but I'd be over-egging it to say there's a date in place, there's a plan in place'

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps this morning told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday: ‘It’s no secret that of course we want the kids to go back to school but I’d be over-egging it to say there’s a date in place, there’s a plan in place’

Primary schools could re-open on June 1, with students from Years 10 and 12 becoming the first in a wave of secondary pupils flocking to classes.

Boris Johnson is hoping to put teachers on three weeks’ notice to re-open primary schools in England to all pupils as soon as next month.

Lockdown is making us love our families MORE: Britons are less likely to split up from partners, are eating and sleeping more… and having more sex 

 When Boris Johnson announced the stringent stay-at-home measures in March, many predicted: ‘The divorce rate is going to go up!’

Not so, according to The Mail on Sunday’s exclusive poll, which paints a more rosy picture of life in lockdown, showing that, on balance, people believe that the extra time spent with their partners has made them less likely to split up.

They are also enjoying work more, plan to spend more time with their children in future and are having more sex – but only if they are married.

The results of the Deltapoll survey will be studied closely in Downing Street as officials start to draw up a blueprint for easing the restrictions slowly and safely.

In terms of intimate relations, the lockdown has opened up a divide between the generations.

Overall, 29 per cent of people said that they were having less sex now, compared with 20 per cent who are having more.

But among the 18-24 age group, more than half (58 per cent) are enjoying less intimacy, with just 18 per cent enjoying more. That is the generation likely to be still living at home or in shared flats, rather than with long-term partners, and unable to go on dates.

Whitehall sources have claimed the earliest possible return of primary schoolchildren is intended to help parents to return to work.

It will also prevent damage being done to ‘early years development’ about which Gavin Williamson has warned, according to The Sunday Telegraph. 

Officials are understood to be contemplating limiting the size of classes temporarily, while the question of when to re-open nurseries is an open one.

Pupils from Years 10 and 12 would then head to school, provided ministers were satisfied the transmission rate did not cause a ‘second peak’.

The move is being considered as data show that younger children are potentially less likely to transmit Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

The discussions also come after Mr Williams told the education select committee this week that schools would not reopen opening during the summer holidays as a way of helping pupils who have missed out on education to catch up.

The education secretary also suggested a phased return to schools, saying it was ‘not realistic or practical’ for all school children to return in one day.

He said scientists were looking at other countries for best practice and that a special team of the Scientific Group for Emergencies (SAGE) had been set up to focus solely on schools reopening.

Mr Shapps told Sophy Ridge on Sunday: ‘It’s no secret that of course we want the kids to go back to school but I’d be over-egging it to say there’s a date in place, there’s a plan in place.’ 

But Ofsted chief inspector of schools Amanda Spielman told the same programme: ‘If you look at the interests of children … it’s very clear that their interests are served, in the vast majority of cases, by being back at school as soon as possible.’

The Party’s OVER: Social bubble could be limited to just 10 family and friends until 2021 

Social bubbles could be limited to fewer than ten people and super-spreader indoor events could be banned until well into 2021 to avoid a second peak of coronavirus infections, scientists revealed.

Senior epidemiologist Adam Kucharski has warned Britain could face ‘exponential growth’ in Covid-19 cases if groups of people start getting together to celebrate as lockdown measures are eased.

‘Look at where these super-spreading events occur, it’s often at family gatherings and meals and weddings and parties and all these things that socially we want to happen,’ Dr Kucharski told The Sunday Times.

His team at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found the usual infection rate sees one person spread the virus to an average of three others.

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford has said schools in Wales could reopen at the beginning of next month.

Asked for an indication about when pupils could return, Mr Drakeford told the BBC’s Andew Marr Show: ‘Our advice from the trade unions and from the local education authorities is that you will need three weeks as a minimum from the point that we decide to do that, to when schools can reopen, so we are talking about the beginning of June.’

He said some groups could return earlier than others, using the examples of year-six children who are due to move up to secondary school, and Welsh medium pupils who may not have had opportunities to use the language at home during lockdown.

But Kevin Courtney, General Secretary of the National Education Union, the largest teachers’ trade union for England and Wales, says talks about a June re-opening are ‘very premature’. 

He told MailOnline: ‘While we all want to see a return to some sort of normality the National Education Union believes it’s really premature to talk about a June return date.

‘Instead the government should be providing evidence about how this can be safe, how many more fatalities would we expect to see amongst school staff and parents and how these can be prevented or minimised.’

He added: ‘If the government proceeds in this sort of way it is will fail to get the confidence of heads, staff and parents.’

Public transport running – but with social distancing 

Doctors prepared to announce Boris Johnson’s DEATH while he battled coronavirus 

 Boris Johnson has revealed that doctors prepared to announce his death in case he lost his coronavirus battle.

The Prime Minister, 55, has admitted he was ‘not in particularly brilliant shape’ while battling the disease at St Thomas’ Hospital in central London last month.

As his chances of survival balanced on a knife-edge, he said he was given ‘litres and litres’ of oxygen as medics fought to keep him alive in intensive care.

In his first interview since recovering from Covid-19 – and the birth of his son Wilfred – the PM recalled his frustration that he could not seem to shake the virus.

But Mr Johnson described how the sobering experience allowed him to see the ‘fantastic’ care offered by the NHS, his voice cracking as he reflected on the rollercoaster past few weeks.

Public transport could return to approaching normal levels of service but with measures in place to limit numbers.

Scenes of packed Tube trans during the lockdown shocked the nation and Mr Shapps this morning said that it was unlikely that would be allowed.

He indicated that the staggered start times enforced in offices could be used to help reduce peak demand on trains and buses. 

‘The crushes would be completely at odds with social distancing,’ he told Sky.

‘Of course i’m very concerned about people being able to wash their hands – it’s still far and away the most important advice….

‘We can help with that by trying to have hand sanitiser , one-way systems, spacing on platforms and at bus stops and that sort of this clearly marked out.

‘There are a lot of different measures that can be taken, of which easing into this is clearly going to be one of the most important things of all.’

But he refused to confirm the idea reported last week that commuters could face temperature checks at stations before  being allowed on to services.

Ban on picnics at beauty spots to be lifted 

Ministers are preparing to lift restrictions on outdoor activities such as picnics as the first stage in relaxing the lockdown rules.

The Mail on Sunday understands the plans – likely to be introduced later this month if coronavirus infection rates continue to fall – will mean people can exercise several times each day and drive to the countryside and other outdoor spaces for walks and picnics.

However, they will only be allowed to do so with members of their household and must stay at least two metres (6ft 6in) away from other groups.

The change, which will end the sight of police officers moving on solitary sunbathers in parks, follows new scientific advice to ministers that the risk of transmitting the disease outside is substantially lower than indoors.

 But people will still be barred from areas such as playgrounds and beaches where crowds congregate and the two-metre rule becomes harder to observe.

Covid-19 cases to be tracked by a smartphone app

Britons will be allowed to exercise several times each day and drive to the countryside for walks and picnics in the first stage of relaxing lockdown 

Ministers are preparing to lift restrictions on outdoor activities such as picnics as the first stage in relaxing the lockdown rules.

The Mail on Sunday understands the plans – likely to be introduced later this month if coronavirus infection rates continue to fall – will mean people can exercise several times each day and drive to the countryside and other outdoor spaces for walks and picnics.

However, they will only be allowed to do so with members of their household and must stay at least two metres (6ft 6in) away from other groups.

The change, which will end the sight of police officers moving on solitary sunbathers in parks, follows new scientific advice to ministers that the risk of transmitting the disease outside is substantially lower than indoors.

But people will still be barred from areas such as playgrounds and beaches where crowds congregate and the two-metre rule becomes harder to observe.

The softening of restrictions will be accompanied by the stricter enforcement of breaches of the remaining rules, with fines rising from the current £60 to more than £3,000 for repeat offenders.

Boris Johnson’s review of the lockdown on Thursday is not expected to lead to any more substantial changes until next month when public transport is likely to return to normal levels and non-food retailers, factories, warehouses and more construction sites will be encouraged to open.

Offices are expected to instruct most of their staff to continue working from home, while pubs and restaurants are likely to remain closed for weeks or even months longer.

Trials of an NHS coronavirus contact tracing smartphone app are to start in the Isle of Wight this week, before being rolled out nationwide.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said around 50 to 60 per cent of people will need to use the software for it to be effective as he described it as the ‘best possible way to help the NHS’.

The NHSX app is part of the Government’s test, track and trace strategy and will be central to its efforts in slowing the spread of coronavirus.

Contact tracing has been used extensively in South Korea, Hong Kong and Germany, where outbreaks have been contained more quickly.

Mr Shapps stressed the app would be completely confidential but called it a ‘fantastic way’ to ensure the country can ‘keep a lid’ on coronavirus and prevent a second wave.

‘The idea is that we will encourage as many people to take this up as possible,’ he said.

‘This is going to be a huge national effort and we need for this to work 50-60 per cent of people to be using this app.

‘Not everybody has a smartphone, and I appreciate that for various reasons not everybody will download it but it will be the best possible way to help the NHS.’

Mr Shapps said he did not know how many of the 18,000 contact tracers the Government is seeking have been hired yet – with plans for them to be in place by mid-May.

He told Sky: ‘It’s not an issue because the app isn’t going to be available for some time yet, a few weeks yet, but when it is there we will have the people in place.’

Labour’s shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said that testing and tracing will be ‘so important’ in easing the lockdown in the weeks and months ahead.

Speaking on Sky’s Sophy Ridge programme, he said: ‘We’ve been asking for the ramping up of testing so clearly I’m pleased that testing has been ramped up.

‘I think there’s always been a difference between the number of tests actually carried out and the overall statistics, indeed the number of people tested is a different figure.

‘But of course I’m pleased that testing has been ramped up. But that in itself is not a strategy.

‘Firstly, the testing has to be increased further, I mean the original target we were talking about a quarter of a million tests a day some time ago, but it has to be linked to tracing as well and it’s that testing and tracing that is going to be so important now in terms of easing the measures of the lockdown in the weeks and months ahead.’

Quarantine for visitors from abroad 

Mr Shapps said he was ‘actively looking at’ quarantining people travelling to the UK from abroad to keep coronavirus infection rates under control.

New restrictions would make the UK one of the last countries to introduce them, with the country very much an outlier in recent weeks by not halting inbound flights or insisting arrivals are checked.

People arriving are advised to self-isolate but there is no enforced testing. 

Home Secretary Priti Patel is  believed to be among those who have demanded tougher rules for foreign visitors and the remaining Brits still abroad who make it home.

Appearing on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show Mr Shapps said: ‘I think it is important that as we are seeing the numbers decrease and the R rate we hope decrease… that we do ensure that the sacrifices in a sense – social distancing – that we are asking the British people to make are matched by anybody who comes to this country.

‘I am actively looking at these issues right now so that when we have infection rates within the country under control we are not importing.’

Coronaphobia UK is rife: Two new polls find just one in four Britons would feel safe at work and more than half are opposed to schools reopening

Just one in four Britons would feel safe at work amid the coronavirus crisis and more than half are opposed to schools reopening in the next few weeks, new polls have found.  

Data published by Opinium found only 17 per cent of Britons believed conditions had been met to considering reopening schools on May 8, with 67 per cent of those polled believing the opposite.  

There was also opposition to the reopening of restaurants and pubs – with only 11 per cent agreeing Britain is at a place to reopen eateries and 9 per cent supporting a return to pubs.

Britons more strongly opposed a return to stadium events and nightclubs, with 7 per cent saying conditions have been met for both to resume, compared to 84 per cent who did not.

Pictured: An elderly couple walk past a police patrol car in Greenwich Park, London on May 2

Pictured: An elderly couple walk past a police patrol car in Greenwich Park, London on May 2

The data, collected between Wednesday and Friday last week, came as a YouGov poll found only one in four adults would feel safe returning to work amid the current state of coronavirus.

The second poll, carried out on behalf of The Sunday Times, also noted 47 per cent of Britons opposed the reopening of schools in the next few weeks, compared to 28 per cent who did not.

A third survey, undertaken by Redfield and Wilton Strategies and published by the Express, found 56 per cent of those polled approved of how the Government had handled the crisis.

An earlier poll of 1,500 people by the researchers found 54 per cent of Britons would not feel comfortable returning to work, with only 13 per cent agreeing they would feel safe travelling to London on May 7.  

A majority 88 per cent of Britons added they would not feel safe attending a sporting event, compared to 12 per cent who would. 

Psychologist Professor Dame Til Wykes of King’s College London told the Guardian that ‘it is likely that most people will feel anxious’ as lockdown restrictions are lifted.

Pictured: A man wearing a face mask walks past rainbow graffiti in support of the NHS in Soho, central London

Pictured: A man wearing a face mask walks past rainbow graffiti in support of the NHS in Soho, central London

A survey published by Opinium found only 17 per cent of Britons believed conditions had been met to considering re-opening schools on May 8, with 67 per cent of those polled believing the opposite

A survey published by Opinium found only 17 per cent of Britons believed conditions had been met to considering re-opening schools on May 8, with 67 per cent of those polled believing the opposite

She said: ‘We have been given strict behavioural advice for more than five weeks, and when that is removed people will feel pressured, and individuals who had pre-existing anxiety, particularly about their health, will be worst hit. It will take quite a lot of psychological treatment to get over this.

‘Different groups will be more affected than others, in particular the elderly and also parents, who will worry about their children bringing home the virus from schools.’

Boris Johnson said on Friday that Britain is ‘past the peak’ of coronavirus – which has killed 28,131 in the UK amid 183,500 confirmed cases.

Heading his first Downing Street briefing since falling ill, the Prime Minister said the UK is now on the ‘downward slope’ and praised Britons for having avoided an ‘uncontrollable and catastrophic’ epidemic.

But Mr Johnson dashed hopes of an imminent loosening, after making clear that a new flare-up of the deadly disease would be worse than the current crippling impact on the economy.

Boris Johnson said on Friday that Britain is 'past the peak' of coronavirus - which has killed 28,131 in the UK amid 183,500 confirmed cases

Boris Johnson said on Friday that Britain is ‘past the peak’ of coronavirus – which has killed 28,131 in the UK amid 183,500 confirmed cases

Britain's death toll (28,131) is bound to overtake Italy's (28,236) by next week and make the UK the second worst-hit country in the world, behind only the US (65,173). The outbreak in the UK is two weeks behind Italy's, meaning its daily death and infection jumps are decreasing at a slower rate

Britain’s death toll (28,131) is bound to overtake Italy’s (28,236) by next week and make the UK the second worst-hit country in the world, behind only the US (65,173). The outbreak in the UK is two weeks behind Italy’s, meaning its daily death and infection jumps are decreasing at a slower rate

He claimed that efforts to bolster the NHS had avoided a ‘reasonable worst-case scenario’ of 500,000 deaths if no action to combat the pandemic had been taken, likening it to digging a tunnel under an alpine mountain.

But in the strongest hint yet that restrictions will run into June and beyond, he added: ‘It is vital that we do not now lose control and run slap into a second and even bigger mountain.’

The premier said a ‘huge amount of work’ was going into an ‘exit strategy’ with the first draft to be published next week. While it will offer a ‘road map, a menu of options’ for how the curbs could be eased in future, he cautioned that it would not give any timings as they would depend on the science.

He gave a strong hint that it will involve advising people to wear face coverings in some circumstances, saying they ‘will be useful’ as the situation evolves.

The Department of Health stopped giving a breakdown of how many COVID-19 deaths occurred in different settings, such as hospitals or care homes, yesterday

The Department of Health stopped giving a breakdown of how many COVID-19 deaths occurred in different settings, such as hospitals or care homes, yesterday

Mr Johnson also said he was ‘not going to pretend’ the government had not made any mistakes in the handling of the crisis, pointing to PPE supplies. He admitted they were learning lessons every day. 

The Opinium poll found only 47 per cent of people approved of how the Government had responded to the coronavirus crisis.

Three in five Britons also disapproved of how the Government had handled access to PPE for NHS staff and essential workers, with only 16 per cent praising their response.

An overwhelming 79 per cent of Britons said they have been following strict lockdown rules since they were introduced by Mr Johnson on March 23.

However, 23 per cent admitted to heading to the shops for non-essentials and 21 per cent said they have left the house more than once per day for exercise. 



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