'Don't expect any changes to the measures' Dominic Raab cautions ahead of lockdown review

The Foreign Secretary has said he does not expect lockdown measures to be eased when they are reviewed later this week.

Speaking at the government's daily coronavirus update, Dominic Raab said there are some “positive signs” from the UK's coronavirus data that show “we are starting to win this struggle”, but cautioned that we "are still not past the peak".

On Monday, a further 717 deaths of patients who have tested positive for coronavirus were reported in UK hospitals and 4,342 more people tested positive for Covid-19.

The number of deaths was down from a high of 980 recorded on Saturday.

Also on Monday, the UK entered its fourth week of lockdown, with a review of measures set to place in the coming days.

However, speaking at the government's daily Covid-19 update, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab cautioned that the country should not "expect... any changes" to the current situation "until we know they can be safely made".

Mr Raab added: “Our plan is working.

"Please stick with it and we’ll get through this crisis together.”

He added now was not the time for the UK to "take the foot off the pedal" and ease the restrictions which are in place.

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A review of the measures will take place by Thursday, the deadline set out in law, although scientific advisors will meet ahead of this on Tuesday.

It has been reported that some members of the Cabinet are urging lockdown conditions to be eased amid concerns about the impact on the economy.

The Times quoted an unnamed minister as saying it was important not to do “more damage”, and measures could be eased after another three weeks.

Despite the fall in deaths in recent days, the Chief Scientific Advisor to the government said he expected the death toll to increase this week before "plateauing as the effects of social-distancing come through.

“That plateau may last for some time and begin to decrease.”

When asked how long the plateau is expected to last, Sir Patrick said: “We would expect a much more gradual decrease (of deaths) from the peak time and a bit of a plateau… and we’d expect that to go on for two or three weeks.”

He said the number of people in hospital beds with Covid-19 is beginning to “flatten off” in many parts of the country.

Recorded coronavirus cases in the UK. Credit: UK government

He said it is expected to continue to flatten and decrease as the effects of social-distancing “really feed through into the illness we are seeing in hospital”.

On the number of hospital deaths of Covid-19, Sir Patrick said the UK is tracking behind Italy and “following the same sort of path”.

Mr Raab also hit back at accusations the government lacked an exit strategy from the lockdown measures, saying: “It’s absolutely crucially important that we do not take our eye off the ball or the public’s focus on the thing that has been a success so far in relative terms – which is our ability through widespread support for our social distancing measures to deprive this virus of the means to spread.”

Boris Johnson has tested negative for coronavirus. Credit: PA

Mr Raab also thanked the public for staying at home and "saving lives" amid the warm, sunny weather over the Easter bank holiday weekend.

“Thank you, your efforts are making all the difference and please keep them up – we’ve come too far, we’ve lost too many loved ones and we’ve sacrificed too much to ease up now," Mr Raab said.

The coronavirus death toll in UK hospitals now stands at 11,329, but it is feared that the true figure could be much higher, as this number does not include deaths outside of hospital.

It means the UK has more recorded deaths than any county except the US, Italy, Spain and France.

The UK is the fifth-worst country in the world in terms of coronavirus deaths. Credit: UK government

Sir Patrick said there was still “a long way to go” before the end of the pandemic.

“The aim all along has been to get the numbers down and keep them below NHS capacity,” he said.

“So far that is exactly where we are in terms of keeping this under control with heroic efforts from the NHS… and the superhuman efforts of the doctors and nurses and all the others who look after the patients.”

But he added: “We have to wait and see how things evolve, there is a long way to go yet. It’s still a new disease, it still hasn’t spread everywhere across the world.

“I think we’ve got a lot yet to see in terms of where this ends up.

“Clearly it’s going to be very important that we concentrate on things like vaccine and therapeutics… I think the measures we have got in place are holding it in the right position in terms of keeping numbers down.”

Sir Patrick Vallance said there is 'still a long way to go' until the end of the pandemic. Credit: PA

The Department of Health said as of 9am on Monday, a total of 352,974 coronavirus tests had been carried out in the country, with 88,621 people testing positive.

The number of virus-related deaths in the UK exceeded 10,000 on Easter Sunday, in what the Health Secretary called a "sombre day" in the Covid-19 outbreak.

Also on Monday, it was announced that Boris Johnson had tested negative for Covid-19on leaving hospital, his official spokesperson said, adding it was “standard practice” to be tested before leaving hospital.

The Prime Minister was discharged from St Thomas’ Hospital on Sunday after a week’s stay, including three nights in intensive care.

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