LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday Britain was now past the peak of its coronavirus outbreak and promised to set out a lockdown exit strategy next week.
Here are the highlights of his statement at a Downing Street news conference:
“We are determined, urgently and in particular, to overcome those challenges that in the last few weeks have been so knotty and so infuriating.
“I’m not going to minimise the logistical problems we have faced in getting the right protective gear to the right people at the right time, both in the NHS (National Health Service) and in care homes, or the frustrations that we have experienced in expanding the numbers of tests.
“But what I can tell you is that everyone responsible for tackling these problems - whether in government or the NHS, or Public Health England, local authorities - we are throwing everything at it, heart and soul, night and day to get it right, and we will get it right and we are making huge progress.”
“It is thanks to that massive collective effort to shield the NHS that we avoided an uncontrollable and catastrophic epidemic where the reasonable worst-case scenario was 500,000 deaths
“And so I can confirm today for the first time that we are past the peak of this disease. We are past the peak and we are on the downward slope and we have so many reasons to be hopeful for the long term.
“I will be setting out a comprehensive plan next week to explain how we can get our economy moving, one; how we can get our children back to school, back into childcare, second, and third, how we can travel to work and how we can make life in the workplace safer.
“In short how we can continue to suppress the disease and at the same time re-start the economy.
“A huge amount of work has been going on on that plan and as we produce it we are being guided by the science, and we will try to build the maximum political consensus as we produce it across all parties and across the UK
“We have come through the peak, or rather we’ve come under what could have been a vast peak as though we’ve been going through some huge alpine tunnel and we can now see the sunlight and pasture ahead of us, and so it is vital that we do not now lose control and run slap into a second and even bigger mountain.
“Nothing ... we do should lift the R or the reproduction rate of that disease back above one
“Let me just emphasise that keeping the R down is going to be absolutely vital to our recovery, keeping the reproduction rate of the disease down, and we can only do it by our collective discipline and working together.
“I know we can do it, because we did it, we’ve shown we can do it, in phase one of this disease.”
Reporting by William James; editing by Stephen Addison