Prime Minister Boris Johnson is making very good progress on his recovery from COVID-19, his office said on Saturday when his health minister said the UK outbreak had not yet reached its peak.
The number of deaths in British hospitals due to the virus has reached almost 9,000. A further 980 deaths were reported on Friday. That number exceeded the deadliest day in Italy, the country with the most deaths.
Among those infected is Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is in an intensive care unit at an early stage of recovery after three nights in the intensive care unit.
"The prime minister continues to make very good progress," said a Downing Street spokesman.
On Friday, his office said Boris Johnson was on his feet again while British newspapers reported he was watching films and reading letters sent to him to buy his pregnant fiancee Carrie Symonds, who herself has COVID-19 symptoms.
The UK has banned three weeks ago to curb the spread of the virus and ministers have asked the British to abide by the Easter weekend ban on social gatherings when much of the country has been bathed in sunny spring weather.
"Stay at home"
"People have to stay at home unless there is a very good reason not to," said Health Minister Matt Hancock.
However, this message comes as the government is under increasing pressure to describe exactly how long the strict restrictions on movement would last. The closure means that many companies are unable to operate.
Ministers said Britain must overcome the peak of the outbreak before changes can be made, and Hancock said that although the number of hospital admissions has gradually decreased, there is still insufficient evidence to be confident that they have overcome the worst .
"Our verdict is that we are not there yet. We have not seen a flattening enough to say that we have peaked," he told BBC Radio.
A decision to block will not be made until next week, the government said, and some scientists have suggested that the climax may still be free for some time. Hancock said "nobody knows" when it would be.
"There are all sorts of suggestions. Your job is to make your best estimate and advise us, and we have a lot of different advice from different scientists," he said.
Mortality rates are expected to continue to rise over the next few days, health officials have warned, but they say they are confident that the ban will mean that the total number of deaths will be below 20,000.
Lack of protective equipment
Initially, Johnson responded more modestly to the outbreak than other European leaders, but changed directions when a quarter of a million people in the UK are predicted to die.
The government has come under fire because of its initial response and unwillingness, and on Saturday there was criticism from doctors and nurses saying they should treat patients without proper personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks and gloves.
Among those who died after a positive COVID-19 test were 19 healthcare workers, including 11 doctors.
The British Medical Association, which represents doctors, said that doctors were faced with a "heartbreaking" decision to treat patients without adequate protection and to put themselves at risk.
The Royal College of Nursing said it was being called for bottlenecks and that some employees were "petrified".
Hancock said 761 million PSA items had been delivered to the 1.4 million people who worked for the National Health Service, but there were problems ensuring that the front was reached.
"There is clearly more work to be done to ensure that every single person who needs it gets the PSA they need," he said.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)