Covid roadmap 'on course' despite European third wave, says PM

Prime minister Boris Johnson announced lockdown just days after the chaotic January return to school. 

Prime minister Boris Johnson announced lockdown just days after the chaotic January return to school. - Credit: PA

The government has insisted the roadmap to easing the lockdown remains on course as people across the UK took part in a minute's silence to remember Covid victims.

England's chief medical officer professor Chris Whitty said the rate of Covid deaths continues to rapidly fall due to the number of people being vaccinated and the effects of the lockdown. 

Every adult in the UK is expected to have their first dose of the vaccine by the end of July. And the government praised those responsible for the vaccine rollout with more than 30 million jabs in total so far.

Speaking during the Covid briefing on Tuesday prime minister Boris Johnson said the country will one day have a "fitting and permanent memorial" to everyone who has died due to the virus.

Mr Johnson described the pandemic as "an epic of endurance and privation". 

He added: "The collective fight is like fighting in the dark against a callous and invisible enemy until science allows us to turn the lights on." 

The rates of people testing positive for the virus in the UK continues to fall with numbers flattening off over the last week.

Prof Whitty said some upward pressure was expected as schools returned, but also highlighted the numbers in hospital with Covid has "come right down" and is "continuing to fall rapidly".

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But the prime minister said the nation should be wary of the potential for a third wave which is building on the continent and is likely to "wash on our shores". 

He emphasised the UK have very tough measures at borders, as well as a "red list" of countries in which arrivals must stay in a quarantine hotel. 

His comments come as MPs and peers in both Houses of Parliament and ministers in the devolved nations marked the anniversary of the first lockdown at midday, while NHS and social care workers also joined the pause for reflection.

New figures from the Office for National Statistics showed a total of 149,117 people have had Covid-19 recorded on their death certificate since the pandemic began.

Prof Whitty said: "The path from here on in does look better than the last year but there are going to be lots of bumps and twists on the road from here on in."