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UK virus lockdown extension looms as PM Johnson’s health ‘improves’

AFP
LONDON
BRITISH Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s health “continues to improve” on his fourth day in COVID-19 intensive care, his spokesman said on Thursday, while the government prepared to extend a nationwide lockdown.
“The prime minister had a good night and continues to improve in intensive care at St Thomas’ Hospital. He’s in good spirits,” the spokesman added.
He said the 55-year-old Conservative leader was not working and had received “standard oxygen treatment”.
Earlier, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden told BBC News: “I think things are getting better for him.” Johnson is the most high-profile world leader to suffer from the coronavirus and his transfer to intensive care on Monday was unprecedented for a prime minister during a national emergency in modern times.
While much of the focus in Britain has been on Johnson’s health, there is also concern over the numbers of people infected with the virus.
The government announced another 881 deaths in Thursday’s daily update, taking the UK total to 7,978.
Senior ministers discussed the strict social distancing measures rolled out on March 23, initially planned for three weeks, during a daily coronavirus response meeting.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is standing in for Johnson, warned that the lockdown, which was due to end on Monday, was not likely to be lifted imminently, saying “we’re not done yet, we must keep going”.
“Deaths are still rising and we haven’t yet reached the peak of the virus, so it’s too early to lift the measures,” he said.
Greater Manchester Police revealed on Thursday that it had to break up 660 parties last weekend. Asked if the British government might give police extra powers during the lockdown, the Downing Street spokesman said: “For now our focus is on ensuring that the steps that we already have in place are properly enforced”.