UK braces for more virus deaths; Johnson reported stable

Johnson still stable in ICU

Britons braced Thursday for several more weeks in lockdown as Prime Minister Boris Johnson remained stable in a London hospital after three nights in intensive care for treatment of his coronavirus infection.

Johnson's spokesman, James Slack, said the prime minister “had a good night and continues to improve” at St. Thomas’ Hospital.

On Wednesday evening the government said Johnson, 55, was making “steady progress” and sitting up in bed. He has been receiving oxygen without being placed on a ventilator since his COVID-19 symptoms worsened and he was admitted to an ICU.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is standing in for Johnson while he's ill, will chair a meeting of the government’s COBRA crisis committee to discuss whether to extend restrictions on public activity and people's movements imposed March 23 to try to slow the spread of the virus.

The original restrictions were for three weeks, a period that ends Monday. But there is little prospect of the government's stay-home order and business closures being lifted. Restrictions could be strengthened if people flock to parks and outdoor spaces over what is forecast to be a warm, sunny Easter weekend.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said there was no prospect of the lockdown being “lifted immediately or even imminently.”

“I wouldn’t expect any change coming out of today’s COBRA meeting,” she told Sky News.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said “the curve (of new cases) is beginning to flatten.”

“This is the moment that we need to stick to the path we’ve chosen,” he told Sky News. “The British people have really come behind this. We shouldn’t be giving up this Easter weekend, that is the number one thing.”

On Wednesday, the U.K. reported 938 new deaths, the country's biggest increase to date.

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