Coronavirus: Boris Johnson says UK can "turn the tide in the next 12 weeks"

The Prime Minister was confident in the face of the coronavirus outbreak at today’s press conference, saying the disease could be ‘sent packing’ within the next few months.

By Lloyd Bent
Thursday, 19th March 2020, 6:02 pm
Updated Thursday, 19th March 2020, 6:45 pm

Johnson opened the conference by praising the public for heeding government advice, which has included warning people to stay away from pubs, restaurants and social gatherings, as well as working from home.

He said that, while it was not certain how long these measures would be in place, “we can turn the tide in twelve weeks” and he is “confident that we can send coronavirus packing in this country.”

Johnson explained said that the UK was ‘getting better at testing’ people for the virus and that ‘negotiations’ were going on for a testing kit ‘like a pregnancy test’ that would be ordered in bulk if it was proven to work.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives to attend a coronavirus news conference inside 10 Downing Street, London. PA Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 19, 2020. Coronavirus (Covid-19) has spread to over 177 countries in a matter of weeks, claiming over 8,000 lives and infecting over 230,000. Leon Neal/PA Wire

The prime minister also dismissed rumours that London, or any of the rest of the country, would be going into lockdown, saying that there were no plans to stop public transport in the capital.

He did however say that the government “may have to go further” if people did not take advice about social distancing on board.

Other scientific developments mentioned include the fact that the first UK coronavirus patient has been sent into randomised tests to find out which drugs best treat the disease and that trials for the first vaccine were on curse to begin ‘within a month’.

Mr Johnson also addressed worried businesses, who said that bank loans outlined by chancellor Rishi Sunak at the conference on Tuesday would not enable them to keep staff on as they would have to apply for them and they faced ‘immediate’ problems.

He said that “businesses should stand by their employees and workers” because the government “will stand by you.”

Chief scientific officer Professor Patrick Vallance added that measures were being put in place to ensure that NHS workers who had symptoms for the virus would be tested, as would their family members and people they lived with, so that they could get back to work is they tested negative.