Boris Johnson has said the UK “can turn the tide” against coronavirus in the next 12 weeks – but subsequently admitted the government “don’t know how long” the crisis will last for.
Speaking at a Downing Street news conference, the prime minister revealed the government is in talks to buy “hundreds of thousands” of tests to reveal if people are immune.
He also said the first British patient had been put in a randomised trial for a treatment for COVID-19.
Mr Johnson thanked Britons for their “huge efforts” in complying with government advice on stopping the spread of the disease.
He said: “We’re asking students to put their education on hold, we’re asking people not to socialise in the normal way and already we can see the impact this is having on the UK economy and on business, on great, great companies.
“So it’s vital that we in government stand behind them when what we are asking everyone to do is so crucial for saving literally thousands of lives by fighting this virus.”
Quizzed by Sky News political editor Beth Rigby over his 12-week assessment – and whether he was saying UK life could return to normal by the summer – Mr Johnson said: “I am very confident that we’ll get this thing done.