Boris Johnson urges people not to lose patience as he returns to work after battle with coronavirus


The UK is at the moment of maximum risk in the coronavirus outbreak, Boris Johnson has said, as he urged people not to lose patience with the lockdown.

Speaking outside No 10 for the first time since recovering from the virus, Mr Johnson said "we are now beginning to turn the tide" on the disease.

In his first remarks after returning to work Monday, Johnson acknowledged that the restrictions were hard to bear and risked taking a heavy toll on the economy.

Johnson drew on his own experience with the virus to offer a message of hope to a country which has endured at least 20,000 deaths. The government has also faced heavy criticism for its early response.

He said lockdown would not be relaxed too soon but details on any changes will be set out over the "coming days".

One of Britain's leading epidemiologists earlier warned the government that any lifting of the lockdown would have to be matched with other measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

"If this virus were a physical assailant, an unexpected and invisible mugger, which I can tell you from personal experience it is, then this is the moment when we are beginning to wrestle it to the floor," Johnson said.

Johnson’s address comes as the latest daily figures show a further 360 people died with the virus in hospitals, taking the total number of deaths to 21,092.This number includes 82 NHS staff and 16 care workers who have died in hospital.

Families of front-line NHS and social care staff who die with coronavirus will receive a £60,000 compensation payment, the government has announced.

The UK deaths figure do not include people who died in care homes, or people who have died in their own homes. Mr Johnson said the UK has "so far collectively shielded our NHS" and "flattened the peak" - but he could not yet say when or which restrictions would be lifted to ease lockdown.

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced plans at the briefing to restart several NHS services which were paused to help the health service cope during the outbreak. Mr Hancock said the "most urgent" services - such as cancer care and mental health support - would be restored first, starting on Tuesday.

"The exact pace of the restoration will be determined by local circumstances on the ground, according to local need and according to the amount of coronavirus cases that the hospital is having to deal with," he said.

Mr Hancock, who has set a target of carrying out 100,000 tests a day across the country by 30 April is still failing to meet it as currently the latest figures show 37,024 tests were carried out on Sunday - still far short of the target.

Mr Hancock said he was still confident of reaching the target, which he said would be "big enough" to support the next phase of the government's strategy to "test, track and trace"

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