UK Government Announces Three-Week Lockdown Extension
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Britain's COVID-19 lockdown will be extended by another three weeks, the government has confirmed.
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced the emergency measures to contain the spread of coronavirus will remain in place until at least early May, after the initial three-week period came to a close.
"The government has decided that the current measures must remain in place for at least the next three weeks," the Foreign Secretary said at the conference.
He added that while there is evidence to suggest social distancing has been successful in slowing down the spread of the virus, there is a "mixed and inconsistent picture" and infections are still likely to be increasing.
Mr. Raab added: "Relaxing any of the measures would risk both public health and our economy. [...]
"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."
The MP also warned of a "second wave" of the virus if social distancing measures were lifted too soon.
The pandemic is believed to be nearing its peak in the UK, with 861 COVID-19 deaths recorded on 15th April, bringing the total to 13,729. However the true number is believed to be much greater as the toll does not take into account deaths in households and care homes.
Mr. Raab is currently chairing the government's emergency Cobra committee meetings while Prime Minister Boris Johnson recovers from the virus at his countryside home, Chequers.
The lockdown rules, which officially came into effect on 23rd March, ban members of the public from going outside except to exercise, buy essential food or medical supplies, or go to work.
Cafés, bars, pubs, restaurants and most shops remain closed while schools are open only to the children of key workers. Individuals are also banned from moving between households, meaning many have now gone several weeks without seeing friends, family and loved ones.
So far, police have issued more than 1,000 fines across England and Wales to people flouting the lockdown rules.
Wales had already confirmed a lockdown extension, with Scotland announcing earlier today the country would remain closed for a further three weeks.
While the spread of the deadly COVID-19 has not yet reached its peak in the UK, but culture secretary Oliver Dowden last week said the country was "just beginning to see this strategy starting to work".
Earlier this month the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus originated, finally began to lift its strict lockdown after 11 weeks (76 days).