United Kingdom extends coronavirus lockdown for 'at least' another three weeks

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The country is now in its fourth week of lockdown and social distancing, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the introduction of the emergency measures in a televised address to the nation on March 23.

He added: "The very clear advice we received is that any change to our social distancing measures now would risk a significant increase in the spread of the virus".

"That would threaten a second peak of the virus and substantially increase the number of deaths".

The lockdown extension was formally announced by UK Government during the daily press briefing at Downing Street this afternoon.

The Department of Health reported: "327,608 people have been tested of which 103,093 tested positive".

United Kingdom foreign secretary Dominic Raab said "we can't have business as usual after this crisis" with China as Britain prepared to ask hard questions from China about the coronavirus outbreak.

"So, the current restrictions will remain in place".

"We are now at both a delicate and risky stage in this pandemic".

He said that the following conditions will need to be met before the government considers lifting the lockdown measures.

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He said it's hard to have confidence in officials' ability to contain the virus if they aren't tracking where it has struck and why.

"I, along with the First Ministers of Scotland and Northern Ireland attended the UK Government's COBR meeting".

There are fears that relaxing measures without taking steps to control the virus's spread will lead to another large outbreak and it is unclear if the country has yet passed the peak of this one.

Mr Raab said ministers and scientists must be confident there will be no second wave of infections, and more widespread testing had to be put in place alongside solid evidence infections were falling.

Officals say the restriction will only be lifted after the country passes its peak.

"It could involve relaxing measures in some areas while strengthening measures in other areas".

"It's just wrong", the spokesman said of Starmer's comments. "If we rush to relax the measures that we have in place we would risk wasting all the sacrifices and all the progress that has been made and that would risk a quick return to another lockdown", he said.

"Because without that, our estimates show we have relatively little leeway", Professor Neil Ferguson, from Imperial College London, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"But we are at a critical point in our response to this pandemic and we do want people to remain focused upon that core message of needing to stay at home to reduce the transmission of this disease, and to save lives".

Some schools are reopening in May and Chancellor Angela Merkel said small shops could follow suit from next week, but with strict hygiene and social distancing measures.

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