This afternoon’s coronavirus (COVID-19) briefing from the Prime Minister featured less headline-grabbing information, but did seek to give reassurance to businesses, suffering due to the economic turmoil.
He thanked everybody for the huge efforts that the country is making to comply with the advice given.
He then went on to say, “My message to business is that we’re going to stand by the workers of this country.
“Unlike in 2008…this time we’re going to make sure we look after the people who really suffer from these economic consequences.”
Apart from government-backed loans and small business grants, the government has yet to fully outline the support package it will be offering to business owners.
At today’s briefing he confirmed more detail will forthcoming tomorrow, with an announcement from the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
“To support everyone through this time, we’ve been talking to trade unions today and the Chancellor will announce the package we’ve put together tomorrow.”
Talking about the timescale of the ‘campaign’, Mr Johnson said, “We can turn the tide within the next 12 weeks but only if we take the steps that we have outlined.
“That is how we’re going to reduce the peak and once we’ve achieved that, then the scientific progress that we’re making will start to come into play.”
He said that UK experts expect to start trials on vaccines by the end of the month and that the government is in negotiations to buy an anti-body test to tell if people have had it.
“If it works, we will buy hundreds of thousands of these kits which have the potential to be a game changer. As once you know you’ve had it, you can return to work and school.”
He confirmed that the government aims to ‘ramp up’ testing from 5k a day to 10k a day to 25k.
Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer said, “Public Health England are currently leading the testing on this. They are ramping up to 25k. If the anti-body test is reliable and works, it’s a relatively easy thing to scale up.”
This will take time to “come on stream,” said the PM.
“That is why, in the meantime, it is absolutely vital that we follow the advice that we’ve been hearing over the lst few days.
“About stayng at home if you or your family has symptoms, avoiding gatherings where you may make contact with people. Wash your hands. It’s by this combination of ruthless determined action and scientific progress that we will succeed.
“I know how difficult this may seem, but by doing this together we will save many many thousands of lives.