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Fri, 3 February 2023

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Boris Johnson announces UK is 'past the peak' of coronavirus outbreak

Boris Johnson announces UK is 'past the peak' of coronavirus outbreak

Boris Johnson led the daily Downing Street briefing for the first time in a month (Sky News)

3 min read

Boris Johnson has announced the UK is “past the peak” of the coronavirus outbreak and was on the "downward slope”.

The Prime Minister also pledged to next week set out "comprehensive plans" for restarting the country's economy.

Speaking at the daily Downing Street briefing for the first time since being diagnosed with the virus, he said strict lockdown measures announced over a month ago had ensured the NHS had not been overwhelmed with cases, with the rate of infections and patients being taken into intensive care falling.

"We have five of the seven projected Nightingale wards and it’s 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," Mr Johnson said.

"And so I can confirm today that for the first time we are past the peak of this disease. We’re past the peak and we’re on the downward slope.

”And we have so many reasons to be hopeful for the long-term."

But the PM said until a vaccine was found, any further easing was still likely to include significant constraints on daily life in an effort to keep the virus suppressed.

He added: "So 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 the third how we can travel to work and how we can make life in the workplace safer.

"And in short how we can continue to suppress the disease and at the same time restart the economy.

"A huge amount of work has been going on on that plan and of course as we produce 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."

He later said: "What you’re going to get next week is really a roadmap, a menu of options.

"The dates and times of each individual measure will be very much driven by where we are in the epidemic, what the data is really saying. 

“And we’re getting in a lot more data every day now and in the course of the next few days.”

The significant announcement came as the daily death toll hit 26,711, with a further 674 deaths recorded in the last 24 hours.

But Mr Johnson said the country had avoided a "vast peak" of deaths which could have occurred had the lockdown measures not been brought in.

"We’ve come through the peak: or rather, we’ve come under what could have been a vast peak as though we’d been going through some huge Alpine Tunnel and we can now see the sunlight and the pasture ahead of us," he added.

"And so it is vital that we do not now lose control and run slap into a second and even bigger mountain."

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