Don’t give coronavirus a chance to kill more people, Raab pleads ahead of Easter
9 April 2020, 17:39 | Updated: 9 April 2020, 22:00
Dominic Raab has pleaded with people to respect the lockdown rules over the Easter weekend and stay at home.
Speaking at the Downing Street daily briefing, Mr Raab told people not to go outside over the weekend to prevent the virus "getting a chance to kill more people".
On the possibility of easing the lockdown the Foreign Secretary, who has stepped in as Boris Johnson's de facto replacement while he is in hospital, said: "We are not done yet. We must keep going."
Mr Raab said it was still "too early" to lift the lockdown restrictions in place across the UK.
He added: "It's been almost three weeks and we're starting to see the impact of the sacrifices we've all made.
"But the deaths are still rising and we haven't yet reached the peak of the virus. So it's still too early to lift the measures that we put in place.
"We must stick to the plan and we must continue to be guided by the science."
Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK's chief scientific officer, said it is important to continue with the measures in place.
He said: "The measures that everybody has taken, the difficult things that we've all had to do, are making a difference, they're making a big difference.
"We know that the social distancing is working and we know that people are doing what they're supposed to do and we need to keep doing that.
"And the reason we need to keep doing that is because it stops the transmission of the virus in the community and we know that that is already happening."
Mr Raab also gave an update on Boris Johnson's condition, saying: "Can I start with an update on the Prime Minister - he's still in intensive care but he continues to make positive steps forward and he's in good spirits."
Asked if he had spoken to the Prime Minister since taking over his responsibilities, Mr Raab said: "Not yet, I think it's important particularly while he's in intensive care to let him focus on the recovery.
"We in the Government have got this covered. I chaired the Cobra meeting that I have just come from, we are pursuing all the different strands of our strategy to defeat the coronavirus and I'm confident we'll get there."
Mr Raab, asked if he could take major decisions required in Mr Johnson's absence, replied: "I've got all the authority I need to make the relevant decisions - whether it's through chairing Cabinet updates, chairing Cobra, or indeed the morning meetings of senior ministers."
He added it was a "team effort".
Asked whether those working in the NHS deserved a pay rise, Mr Raab said: "There will be a moment when we look at how we formally recognise all of those on the frontline who have done so much to pull us through this very difficult period for our country."
Earlier, Mr Raab said: "Above all, as we go into this long bank holiday weekend I think people should think very long and hard, not just about the guidance and the importance of keeping it up, but about what happens to those on the NHS frontline who are doing a heroic job, if people in large numbers don't comply with those rules.
"I would urge everyone just to take a moment before they do anything however warm it is, however great the temptation, just to think about the sacrifices those on the frontline, particularly in our NHS are making."
It comes as the number of people to have died in the UK after contracting coronavirus has jumped by 881 to 7,978 on Thursday.
A further 4,344 people have tested positive for Covid-19, bringing the nation's tally to 65,077.
60,733 people were reported as contracting the virus in the UK.
It comes as the government launched a new "Stay at home this Easter" campaign to protect the NHS.
The new campaign reinforces the importance of staying at home over Easter, and only leaving your house to buy essentials, to do one form of exercise a day, to travel into work, but only where you cannot work from home, and for any medical or social care need.
A government spokesperson said: “We understand that people will want to spend time with their friends and families this Easter, and we recognise that we are asking the public to make sacrifices in the fight against this disease.
“Everyone has a role to play in this, and the best way we can protect our loved ones is by staying away this Easter.
“We are at a crucial moment in preventing further transmission of coronavirus, and so it is vital that we continue following the government’s guidance to stay at home, protect the NHS, and save lives.”