UK reiterates stay at home message over Easter as daily fatalities hit 980

Britain's Health Secretary Matt Hancock  (Photo: Tolga Akmen /AFP via Getty Images)
Britain's Health Secretary Matt Hancock (Photo: Tolga Akmen /AFP via Getty Images)

The UK government on Friday issued another clarion call for people to stay at home over the Easter weekend period as another record of 980 daily fatalities took the country’s death toll from coronavirus up to 8,958.

UK health secretary Matt Hancock urged the British public to resist the urge to enjoy the nice weather forecast over the long holiday weekend to help the NHS manage the large numbers of Covid-19 related admissions to hospitals across the country.

“We never forget that behind this number is a name, a loss and a family that will never be the same again,” said Hancock as he unveiled the daily figures at the Downing Street briefing.

“However warm the weather, however tempting your local beach or park, we need everyone to stay at home. Because in hospitals across the country, NHS staff are battling day and night to keep desperately sick people breathing and they need you to stay at home,” he said.

“The front door is better than any face mask,” he added.

The minister, who is leading the charge of the government’s health response to the coronavirus pandemic, expressed confidence that things are on track for boosting the UK’s testing capacity to curb the rapid spread of the deadly virus and look ahead to a post-lockdown phase.

In addition to the testing that is being done at NHS hospitals, he said that 15 drive through testing centres are being put place at Glasgow, Cardiff, Belfast, Nottingham, Plymouth, Leeds and London and other cities.

The UK life science industry is also answering the government’s call to arms to help enhance its testing abilities.

Hancock also confirmed an earlier Downing Street statement that British prime minister Boris Johnson was recovering well after testing positive for coronavirus and able to do short walks while in his hospital ward after being shifted out of intensive care.

Newly-elected Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer urged the government to be transparent over its lockdown strategy and to clarify how long Johnson will be “out of action”.

“We need robust replacement arrangements in place and we need to know what they are, as soon as possible,” he said.