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PM back in office and thanks UK for its 'grit and guts' but says lockdown must remain


By Scott Maclennan

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned he cannot risk lifting the lockdown yet.

He made his first formal public statement since leaving hospital, including a spell in intensive care due to coronavirus, this morning.

Speaking outside Number 10 Downing Street, Mr Johnson thanked the UK for its “sheer grit and the guts” in the face of “new sadness and mourning”.

The Prime Minister said: “I want to thank you, the people of this country, for the sheer grit and the guts you have shown and are continuing to show and I know that every day brings new sadness and mourning to households across the land.

“And it is still true that this is the biggest single challenge that this country has faced since the war and I in no way minimise the continuing problems we all face.

“And yet it is also true that we are making progress with fewer hospital admissions, fewer Covid-19 patients in ICU and real signs now that we are passing through the peak.

“And thanks to your forbearance, your good sense, your altruism, your spirit of community, your national resolve we are on the brink of achieving that first clear mission to prevent our National Health Service from being overwhelmed in a way that we have tragically seen elsewhere.

“This is the moment when we have begun together to wrestle it [Covid-19] to the floor so then it follows that this is a moment of opportunity, this is the moment when we can press home our advantage, it is also the moment of maximum risk.

“I know therefore there will be many people who are looking at our apparent success and wondering whether now is the time to go easy on those social-distancing measures.

“We must also recognise the risk if of a second spike, the risk of losing control of that virus and letting the reproduction rate go back up because that would mean not only a new wave of death and disease but also an economic disaster and we would be forced to slam on the breaks across the whole country and whole economy.

“I want to get this economy moving as fast as I can but I refuse to throw away all this effort and sacrifice of the British people and to risk a second major outbreak and huge loss of life and the overwhelming of the NHS.

“I ask you to contain your impatience because I believe now that we are coming to the end of the first phase of this conflict and in spite of all the suffering we have so bearly succeeded.”

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