By Ned Simons
Boris Johnson said the UK could “turn the tide” of the coronavirus outbreak in the next 12 weeks, but only if the public follows government advice to avoid gatherings.
The prime minister asked for “ruthless, determined, collective action” to “reduce the peak” of the virus by early June.
But he told a press conference in Downing Street on Thursday that if people ignored the advice then “nothing is ruled out” when it came to imposing stricter restrictions, especially in London where the outbreak has so far hit hardest.
“We don’t know where we are and we don’t know how long this thing will go on for,” he said. “We do need very energetic, concerted effort to follow the medical advice.”
On Thursday morning No.10 said the capital will not be locked down like other major cities around the world.
The prime minister’s spokesperson said there was “zero prospect” of a ban on travelling in and out of the capital.
Johnson also revealed the first British patient had been put in a randomised trial for a treatment for Covid-19.
He said the government was “in negotiations” to buy a so-called antibody test.
“If it works as its proponents claim, then we will buy literally hundreds of thousands of these kits as soon as practicable,” he said. “Because obviously it has the potential to be a total gamechanger.”
Some 137 people in the UK have died after testing positive for the virus, including six in Scotland, two in Wales and one in Northern Ireland, according to the latest Department of Health and Social Care figures.
Johnson said: “I’m conscious as the days have gone by that people will want to know how long we’re expecting them to keep it up.
“I think, looking at it all, that 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 all take the steps that we’ve outlined, that is vital, that’s how we’re going to reduce the peak and once we’ve achieved that and I think that we will, if we take the steps I’ve said, then the scientific progress that we’ve been making will really start coming into play.”
Earlier today, the government’s top scientific advisers warned young people not to be complacent over Covid-19 as they urged the public to keep up social distancing measures.
England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said the vast majority of people in all age groups would recover but it was a mistake for young people who are healthy to think they would all just “breeze through” the pandemic.