THE UK's strict lockdown IS working, Boris Johnson has announced – as new graphs show Covid cases are dropping rapidly.
The PM is giving a speech to the nation from Downing Street this evening after the country's grim toll reached more than 100,000 – less than a year after the first UK coronavirus fatality has recorded.
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Admitting the toll is "an appalling and tragic loss of life", Mr Johnson told Brits: "The number of deaths recorded has passed 100,000, and it's hard to compute the sorrow contained in that grim statistic – the years of life lost, the family gatherings not attended, and for so many relatives, the missed chance even to say goodbye
"I offer my deepest condolences to everyone who has lost a loved one."
And he promised that all those who have died will be remembered, vowing: "We'll come together as a nation to remember everyone we've lost, and to honour the selfless heroism of all those on the frontline who gave their lives to save others."
Mr Johnson also said there will be time for 'lessons to be learned' – adding "As Prime Minister I take full responsibility for everything this Government has done."
It comes as:
- A minister has slammed the EU over its "vaccine nationalism" after Brussels threatened to block the sale of lifesaving jabs to Britain
- Primary school-aged kids are 'resistant' to a super-infectious new strain of Covid – as officials mull reopening schools
- Hols abroad have been 'axed' as the PM mulls hotel quarantine for UK arrivals
- Medics say they're 'confident' that jabs work on mutant strains of the virus
- Anti-lockdown riots in the Netherlands rage for a third night
But although more than 3,500 people continue to be admitted to hospitals around the country every day, health chiefs hope the UK is finally battling through the peak.
Cases have dropped 26 per cent week-on-week, while today's positive tests – 20,089 – is 40 per cent fewer than last Tuesday's total.
Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty urged caution as he presented the graphs during the press conference – and said lockdown has to stay strict.
"Office for National Statistics data demonstrates a rather slower decrease, and we need to be careful not to relax too early," he said.
More than 35,000 people are still in hospital – an "incredibly high number" and "substantially higher than the April peak", he said.
"It is still at a very high level throughout the country and NHS staff are working incredibly hard with many very sick patients," he said.
Lockdown began in early January. Yesterday, 22,195 more infections were reported in the lowest daily increase since mid-December.
But Prof Whitty warned Britain will see more deaths before the vaccinations programme takes effect.
"Unfortunately, we're going to see quite a lot more deaths over the next few weeks before the effects of the vaccines begin to be felt," he said.
And he said one of the biggest problems facing the UK is the super-infectious mutant Kent variation – which experts say may be more deadly.
Reacting to death toll today, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “My thoughts are with each and every person who has lost a loved one – behind these heart-breaking figures are friends, families and neighbours.
“I know how hard the last year has been, but I also know how strong the British public’s determination is and how much we have all pulled together to get through this."
And Dr Yvonne Doyle, Public Health England's medical director, said: “This is a sobering moment in the pandemic.
"These are not just numbers. Each death is a person who was someone’s family member and friend."
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