'Far too early' to relax lockdown measures despite 'positive signs', says Dominic Raab

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said there are some “positive signs” from the latest data that show the UK is “starting to win this struggle” against coronavirus but warned: “We are still not past the peak.”

Monday, 13th April 2020, 6:57 pm

Speaking at today’s Downing Street press conference, Mr Raab praised people for staying at home during the Easter weekend and added: “Our plan is working. Please stick with it and we’ll get through this crisis together.”

Mr Raab said: “At the end of last week we were concerned that people might start ignoring the advice or cutting corners given the temptation to go out into the sunshine.

“In fact the overwhelming majority of people stayed at home and understood the importance of doing so.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. Photo: PA

“By staying home this weekend, you’ve saved lives.

“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.”

A review of lockdown measures will take place by Thursday, the deadline set out in law.

Ministers have said they want to be sure the UK is past the peak of the outbreak before easing the restrictions, but 10 members of the Cabinet are reportedly 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.

Scientific advisers will meet tomorrow ahead of the formal review.

But Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance 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.”

Mr Raab reiterated the need to “flatten the curve” as he responded to a question about when schools would reopen. But he did not offer a target for when it would happen.

Sir Patrick added: “When we are firmly the other side of it in terms of numbers coming down, only at that stage might we look at when those measures might be released.

He added: “It would be a waste if we were to rapidly reverse that and see a re-emergence of this.”