A woman wearing face mask walks through the empty Waterloo Station in London, Britain.Xinhua Photo
The British government has decided to prolong the ongoing restrictions on movement as measures to curb the transmission of coronavirus by “at least three weeks”.
Asserting that relaxing lockdown measures would lead to a resurgence of the virus, Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary and first secretary of state, told reporters that the government has decided relaxing the measures would make the economic impact worse, not better.
"We must keep up this national effort for a while longer... now is not the moment to give coronavirus a second chance," he said.
Chairing Thursday's Downing Street press briefing, Raab said the government could subsequently decide to relax the measures in some respects, while strengthening them in others.
The lockdown measures, introduced on March 23 by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, were working, but evidence showed that the infection of the virus was still spreading in hospitals and care homes, said Raab.
He also laid five conditions needed before changing the lockdown restrictions. Firstly there must be enough space in hospitals; secondly, there is a sustained and consistent fall in daily death rate; thirdly, there is reliable data showing that rate of infection decreasing to manageable levels; fourthly Britain must have enough testing and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in hand; and lastly, any adjustments won't overwhelm the National Health Service (NHS).
Meanwhile, Government Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance, who co-chaired the press conference with Raab, told reporters that the number of people in local hospitals is falling and new cases are at least flattening and maybe decreasing.
According to a YouGov poll, about 91 percent of British adults support extending the coronavirus lockdown. The poll was carried out on Thursday before the government announced the lockdown extension.
The death toll of those hospitalized in Britain who tested positive for the virus hit 13,729 as of Wednesday afternoon, a daily increase of 861, the Department of Health and Social Care said Thursday.
As of Thursday morning, 103,093 people in Britain tested positive for COVID-19, said the department.