What Boris Johnson said in his coronavirus briefing - everything you need to know

By Nick Mitchell
Wednesday, 30th September 2020, 5:28 pm
Updated Wednesday, 30th September 2020, 5:34 pm
Prime Minister Boris Johnson (centre), Chief Medical Officer for England Chris Whitty (left) and Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance (right) attend a virtual press conference at Downing Street (Photo: STEFAN ROUSSEAU/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson (centre), Chief Medical Officer for England Chris Whitty (left) and Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance (right) attend a virtual press conference at Downing Street (Photo: STEFAN ROUSSEAU/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

The Prime Minister led a Covid-19 briefing this evening after the UK recorded the highest number of daily coronavirus cases since the outbreak began.

Boris Johnson called for the nation to "stick together" after facing criticism over further confusion around the restrictions in place across many parts of the country.

The PM was joined at the Downing Street press conference by chief medical officer for England, professor Chris Whitty, and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.

The last time the three men appeared together at the podiums was on September 9, when Mr Johnson outlined the “rule of six”.

No national lockdown

The PM was clear that he was not planning to announce a new national lockdown: “What we are not doing at the moment is going back to the situation we were in in March.

“And, I really don’t want to do this. I don’t want to go back to a national lockdown where the overall guidance is stay at home, that is not what we are saying.

“We want to keep the economy moving. We want to keep young people, pupils in education.

“But the only way we can do that is if we all follow the guidance and depress the virus.”

What else did Boris Johnson say?

Mr Johnson called for “collective forbearance, common sense and willingness to make sacrifices” in the battle against Covid-19, warning that tougher measures could be introduced if the evidence showed they were needed.

He warned that any new measures would be "more costly than the ones we have put into effect now", adding: "But if we put in the work together now then we give ourselves the best possible chance… of avoiding those measures."

However, the PM also warned that the government "will not hesitate" to put further measures in place if needed.

Starting with a recap of the local lockdowns, Mr Johnson then paid tribute to students who have been forced to self-isolate. "Plans are being put in place to allow students to return home safely for Christmas," he said, without being able to give any detail on what these plans are yet.

In an effort to sound a positive note, the PM said: "We have to stick to [the plan] together, and we should stick to it with confidence."

With reference to the continued rise in cases, Mr Johnson said the impact of the latest restrictions "will take time to feed through".

Mr Johnson said that 32 billion items of PPE have been ordered for the NHS - and that the number of ventilators has trebled to 31,500.

He added that 14 million people have now downloaded the new official coronavirus app.

Mr Johnson said he "profoundly disagrees" with those who say we should open up and aim for so-called herd immunity.

He also said that he is confident Britain will get through the latest outbreak: “I am absolutely confident that with better treatments and with the prospect of a vaccine we will get through this.

“Let’s follow the rules, wash our hands, cover our faces, observe social-distancing, download the app, and together we will fight back against this virus, protect the NHS and save more lives.”

What else did we learn?

Professor Whitty confirmed that virus cases are increasing "quite rapidly" among older teenagers and young adults aged up to 21.

However, he said the rate of transmission among school-age children is "really not changing very much". This was a point he wanted to make clear to parents who may be concerned.

Professor Whitty also said the current pattern of cases is "rather different" from the first wave of virus infections back in March and April.

As well as a general increase in cases, he said there has been a "heavy concentration" of cases in areas such as the Midlands, as well north-east and north-west England.

Despite the renewed rise in cases, Professor Whitty said that the NHS is "absolutely open for business".

Record rise in UK coronavirus cases

As of 9am on Tuesday, there had been a further 7,143 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK – the highest daily figure recorded since the outbreak began, although far more tests are being carried out than in the spring.

A further 71 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Tuesday, bringing the UK total to 42,072 – although separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate in nearly 57,900 cases.