IT is still too early to lift the coronavirus lockdown, the Government has said.

Speaking at the daily Downing Street briefing on coronavirus, Dominic Raab said the measures would have to stay in place until “we’ve got the evidence that clearly shows we’ve moved beyond the peak”.

He asked the UK to “keep going” and not risk the progress already made.

Raab is currently standing in for the Prime Minister, who has been struck down by coronavirus. Although Boris Johnson was removed from intensive care yesterday evening, he remains in hospital.

There has been some speculation that plans to review the lockdown rules are being put back until later next week to give Johnson a chance to say if he agrees or not.

Asked if he had spoken to the Prime Minister since he was admitted to hospital, Raab said he had not, but insisted he had “all the authority I need to make the relevant decisions”. The Foreign Secretary was speaking at the briefing after chairing a Cobra meeting with senior ministers, and the leaders of the devolved nations.

He revealed that 65,077 people across the UK have now tested positive for Covid-19.

The number of people admitted to hospital with symptoms stands at 16,784.

There were 881 deaths across the UK in the last 24 hours, bringing the total death toll to 7978.

Raab started the briefing with a series of thank yous.

He thanked NHS workers on the front line, care and charity workers, supermarket workers, delivery drivers, the technicians, the cleaners, the public servants “who just kept going, determined to keep providing the daily services that we all rely on”.

“I think you’ve certainly made us all think long and hard about who the key workers are in our lives,” he said.

The Foreign Secretary also gave a “massive thank you to every single person who stayed home to stop this terrible virus from spreading.

“You’ve helped protect the NHS, and you’ve helped to save lives,” he said.

“Now as we look forward to the long bank holiday, Easter weekend, I know some people are going to start wondering if it is time to ease up on the rules. So I say thank you for your sacrifice. But also, we’re not done yet. We must keep going.”

He said the early signs of the social distancing measures suggest “that they are having the impact that we need to see”.

However, he added, it was “too early to say that conclusively”.

The Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) are to meet next week to “discuss the latest evidence”. Any decision on lockdown changes will be made then.

Raab said that after three weeks, the “impact of the sacrifices we’ve all made” was starting to register. But, he added, “the deaths are still rising and we haven’t yet reached the peak of the virus. So it’s still too early to lift the measures that we put in place”.

He continued: “After all the efforts that everyone’s made, after all the sacrifices so many people have made, let’s not ruin it now. Let’s not undo the gains we’ve made. Let’s not waste the sacrifices so many people have made.

“We mustn’t give the coronavirus a second chance to kill more people.”

Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government’s chief scientific adviser, said the lockdown had already made a “big difference”.

He said the restrictions had slowed down the number of new cases and the number of new patients that require intensive care. If that social distancing hadn’t happened, he added, “we would find many, many more people in hospital, we would find the health system potentially overrun”.

However, he warned that the death toll would rise for about two weeks.

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