Boris Johnson says the UK can turn the tide against coronavirus within 12 weeks

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks and takes questions during a press conference in Downing Street regarding the coronavirus outbreak, on March 9, 2020. in London, England.

Alberto Pezzali – WPA Pool | Getty Images

The U.K. prime minister offered citizens a piece of optimism Thursday, saying in a daily briefing that the country could turn the tide against the coronavirus if the right measures were taken.

To date, the U.K. has 2,644 cases of the coronavirus nationwide, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The U.K.’s National Health Service reported a further 29 people had died Thursday, taking the country’s death toll up to 128.

“We can turn the tide within the next 12 weeks and I’m absolutely confident that we can send coronavirus packing in this country but only if we take the steps — we all take the steps — that we have outlined,” Johnson told reporters. He later added that he couldn’t say whether the country would be on a downward slope by the end of June. 

The prime minister added that restrictive measures may have to go further in London, with evidence suggesting the virus is spreading much further in the capital city. He added that compliance with the government’s advice to stay at home has been patchy.

But he said that there is no prospect of stopping public transport in London. His comments come as Londoners speculate about a potential lockdown on the city, with possible restrictions on entry and exits where around 9 million people live.

Earlier Thursday, Downing Street denied the reports, saying there was “no prospect” of the capital city being locked down and subject to restrictions on movement, as seen in other European countries.

Unlike Italy, Spain and Germany, the U.K. government has not imposed any concrete measures to prevent the spread of the virus. 

Instead, the government has so far made strong recommendations to the public, advising them to stay and work at home if possible and to stop all social contact. It has stopped short of enforcing the closure of bars, restaurants, gyms, cinemas, museums and places of worship.

Nonetheless, London life is changing with far less people on the streets, many people working from home and socializing down to a minimum.

London’s transport authority, Transport for London (TfL), announced Wednesday that it was to close 40 stations on the Underground network to facilitate the journeys of key workers or “critical workers,” as TfL called them, referring to those that work in public services such as schools and hospitals.

It was announced at the press conference Wednesday that U.K. schools will close on Friday, putting students’ end of year exams into doubt. Children of key workers will be provided with some kind of childcare provision so they can continue to work.

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