Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed today that the UK is 'past the peak' of COVID-19 and promised to deliver a roadmap for a lockdown exit strategy next week.


Speaking at his first Downing Street press conference since he contracted the virus, the Prime Minister thanked everyone who had provided support in his absence, and had a special 'thank you' for the NHS.


He said there were many reasons to remain hopeful for the long-term, including that the UK is leading international efforts to find a vaccine.


"Today, Oxford University has announced a partnership with AstraZenica to develop a means of inoculating ourselves against the disease," he said.


"But until this day comes, and we cannot say exactly when it may be, we will have to beat this disease by our growing resolve and ingenuity."


He said that next week he would announce a plan for the lockdown exit strategy which would explain how:


1. we can get our economy moving

2. we can get our children back to school and into childcare

3. we can travel to work and make life in workplaces safer


He said the plan would be guided by science and the government would try to build maximum consensus across all parties and across the UK.


Taking questions, Mr Johnson discussed the UK economy, saying government had been doing everything it could and the interventions introduced in the UK were better than other countries.


He said: "We mourn for every life lost and we mourn for the economic damage the country is sustaining and the dreams of people they're seeing shattered in their businesses, their anxieties about their jobs, we totally understand that.


"As you know, the government has made a huge effort to look after the workers and protect them with our furloughing scheme and colossal sums of loans going out the door.


"It is absolutely vital if we are to bounce as strongly as I hope we can that we don't have a second bad spike. That would really do the economy damage.


"That's why we've got to calibrate our measures so carefully so that we not only unlock the economy gradually but also find ways of continuing to suppress the disease and possibly new ways and more ingenious ways.


"That's what we're working on now and I hope we'll see more of that next week."


The Prime Minister also said it remained 'vital' that the country does not lose control of the virus and face a second, and even bigger, spike in the virus.


"The country came together in way few of us have seen in our lifetimes to protect the NHS and save lives, " he said, "and that is why I am convinced we can continue to do this in phase two as well."


Treasury cuts taxes to reduce PPE costs

Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) purchased by care homes, businesses, charities and individuals to protect against COVID-19 will be free from VAT for a three-month period from tomorrow (May 1).


The government had already removed import duties from PPE to ensure more essential equipment can get to the front line quicker, and says it believes the VAT holiday will save around £100 million.


More information is available here.


UK just misses its 100,000 daily testing target

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced at today's press conference that 81,611 people were tested for coronavirus yesterday, an increase of almost 30,000 on the day before.


This takes the government 80% of the way to meeting its goal of doing 100,000 daily coronavirus tests by today, the last day of April.


The scheme has been expanded this week to cover those with symptoms unable to work at home (such as construction workers, shop workers, emergency tradespeople and delivery drivers), as well as anyone they live with. People can self-refer or be referred by their employer. Details can be found here.




Ask a question at a coronavirus press conference

Find out how you can ask the government a question at the daily coronavirus press conference here.


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