UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that it was “too early to say when restrictions will be lifted” as coronavirus infections in the country continue to remain high.
“We’ve got to observe the lockdown, the stay at home message, protect each other and protect the NHS (National Health Service). It’s absolutely crucial in what is unquestionably going to be a tough few weeks ahead,” he said on Thursday during a visit to the Greater Manchester area hit by heavy flooding.
Johnson said figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and other studies showed clearly that the new coronavirus variant, which was first discovered in the country late last year, is very contagious, reports Xinhua news agency.
“It is not more deadly but it is more contagious and the numbers are very great,” he said.
Meanwhile, Johnson’s spokesman told journalists at a Westminster briefing that the UK government continues to keep all of the scientific evidence and data under review regarding the decision to lift lockdown.
“It remains our position that we want to ease restrictions as soon as it is safe to do so, but in order for us to do that we need to see the transmission rates of the virus come down and we need to see the pressure on the NHS reduce,” said the spokesman.
Ministers “stand ready to strengthen our border policy where we think it’s appropriate to protect the public”, he said when asked about reports suggesting people coming to the UK could be required to pay to stay in a hotel for two weeks while they quarantine.
England is currently under the third national lockdown since the outbreak of the pandemic in the country.
Similar restriction measures are also in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
On Tuesday, the country’s Covid-19 death toll surpassed the grim milestone of 90,000.
As of Friday morning, the UK has registered a total of 3,553,773 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 94,765 deaths.