The coronavirus lockdown is to be extended for at least another three weeks in the UK, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said as he warned that lifting restrictions now would risk a dangerous second peak of Covid-19.
Mr Raab, deputising for Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he recovers from the virus, said the original three-month timeline set down by Mr Johnson to come through the peak of the virus was broadly "still the outline".
Mr Raab said there is "light at the end of the tunnel" but refused to set out a "definitive timeframe" for easing the lockdown measures, stressing that lifting them now would only lead to a "second lockdown".
He said: "The prime minister said at the outset that it would take three months to come through the peak and I think that, broadly, is still the outline. We can't give a definitive timeframe, that would be to prejudge the evidence, that wouldn't be a responsible thing to do.
"But our message to the public is: there is light at the end of tunnel, we are making progress, but at the same time we must keep up the social distancing measures."
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.
"The worst thing we could do right now is to ease up too soon, allow a second peak of the virus to hit the NHS and to hit the British people," he said.
Mr Raab said there were still "issues with the virus spreading in some hospitals and in care homes", adding: "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."