PM 'remains in charge' as expert confirms it's 'too early to tell' when coronavirus lockdown restrictions will end

  • Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Paul Brand

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said Boris Johnson still "remains in charge" of the country as Prime Minister despite being admitted to hospital as his coronavirus symptoms persist.

When asked about Mr Johnson's health, Mr Raab said: "I can tell you the PM had a comfortable night in hospital and is in good spirits.

He added: "He is still in hospital under observation. He is being given regular updates on developments and he continues to lead the Government."

When asked about whether the lockdown restrictions would be extended, Professor Dame Angela McLean, deputy chief scientific adviser said: "It’s too early to tell yet.

"We need people to carry on following those instructions so that we can work out three weeks later what actually happens in hospitals."

Mr Raab added: "We're getting on making sure we can defeat the virus home and abroad."

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Professor Chris Whitty, in his first public appearance since recovering from coronavirus symptoms, also said it would be a mistake to discuss the next phase of managing the pandemic until there is confidence that the peak has been reached.

He said: "The key thing is to get to the point where we are confident we have reached the peak and this is now beyond the peak and at that point I think it is possible to have a serious discussion about all the things we need to do step-by-step to move to the next phase of managing this.

"But I think to start having that discussion until we’re confident that that’s where we’ve got to, would I think be a mistake."

His comments come as the number of coronavirus-related deaths in the UK has risen by 439, bringing the total to 5,373.

More than 2,000 britons have been repatriated from abroad amid the virus outbreak. Credit: AP

Mr Raab gave an update on the number of people the Foreign Office has helped to return to Britain.

He told a press briefing that his department had helped 200,000 return on commercial flights from Spain alone since the crisis began, 13,000 from Egypt and 8,000 from Indonesia.

Chartered flights by the UK Government from seven countries had helped more than 2,000 British nationals return home, while another 1,500 had been repatriated from cruise ships.

And the Cabinet minister promised all was being done to return those still stuck abroad, with more flights from India, South Africa, Nepal and the Philippines flying in later this week.