Coronavirus: Raab says 'plan is working' but UK lockdown 'to be extended for another three weeks'

A social distancing notice on display in St James's Park, London, as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. (Photo by Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images)

The government is set to announce the UK will keep its coronavirus social distancing restrictions in place for three more weeks, it has been reported.

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab, who is deputising for Boris Johnson while he recovers from coronavirus, will make the announcement on Thursday, according to The Times.

The newspaper said Raab will tell the British public that the government's restrictions will remain in place until at least 7 May.

According to the government, of those people hospitalised in the UK who have tested positive for coronavirus, 11,329 have died, but Raab insisted on Monday its plan "is working".

Work and pensions secretary Therese Coffey said the battle against coronavirus "isn't going to be over in weeks, it will take months".

She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Well, I think people will need to wait until we have seen the evidence and the recommendations that come from that after the assessment of the first three weeks of lockdown.

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Easter 2020: The UK in lockdown
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Easter 2020: The UK in lockdown
SOUTHEND ON SEA, ENGLAND - APRIL 10: A woman sunbathes from the window above the Britannia Fish and Chip restaurant on the seafront on Good Friday on April 10, 2020 in Southend on Sea, England. Public Easter events have been cancelled across the country, with the government urging the public to respect lockdown measures by celebrating the holiday in their homes. Over 1.5 million people across the world have been infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus, with over 7,000 fatalities recorded in the United Kingdom. (Photo by John Keeble/Getty Images)
LEIGH ON SEA, ENGLAND - APRIL 10: A sign warning people to stay at least two metres apart on Two Tree Island nature reserve park on April 10, 2020 in Leigh on Sea, England. Public Easter events have been cancelled across the country, with the government urging the public to respect lockdown measures by celebrating the holiday in their homes. Over 1.5 million people across the world have been infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus, with over 7,000 fatalities recorded in the United Kingdom. (Photo by John Keeble/Getty Images)
On the first day of the Easter Bank Holiday weekend, and at the end of the second week of lockdown restrictions by the UK government, a family use their daily exercise entitlement to spend a warm afternoon near a stencil for keeping 2 metres apart in Ruskin Park in a public green space in the borough of Lambeth, on 10th April 2020, in London, England. (Photo by Richard Baker / In Pictures via Getty Images)
SOUTHEND ON SEA, ENGLAND - APRIL 10: A deserted Southend seafront promenade which would normally be bustling with the current sunny weather on Good Friday on April 10, 2020 in Southend on Sea, England. Public Easter events have been cancelled across the country, with the government urging the public to respect lockdown measures by celebrating the holiday in their homes. Over 1.5 million people across the world have been infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus, with over 7,000 fatalities recorded in the United Kingdom. (Photo by John Keeble/Getty Images)
SOUTHEND ON SEA, ENGLAND - APRIL 10: People walk past a hoarding which has been painted with the words "Well Done NHS" and hearts on Southend seafront promenade which would normally be bustling with the current sunny weather on Good Friday on April 10, 2020 in Southend on Sea, England. Public Easter events have been cancelled across the country, with the government urging the public to respect lockdown measures by celebrating the holiday in their homes. Over 1.5 million people across the world have been infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus, with over 7,000 fatalities recorded in the United Kingdom. (Photo by John Keeble/Getty Images)
Chalk writing telling people to stay away from Margate Beach is visible on an empty beach in Margate, Kent, during the Easter bank holiday weekend, as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Unusually quiet north and southbound carriages on the A30 in Cornwall during the Easter bank holiday weekend, as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
People near the river Thames in Windsor, Berkshire, during the Easter bank holiday weekend, as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
People on the Long Walk at Windsor Castle, Berkshire, during the Easter bank holiday weekend, as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Staff at Blair Drummond Safari Park give their meerkats rainbow coloured Easter eggs filled with enrichments. The park is closed to the public at the moment as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
People walk on the Tolcarne beach in Newquay on the north coast of Cornwall, as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A view of the M25 motorway near Heathrow as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Composite photo of people enjoying the hot weather at a busy Bournemouth beach, Dorset, during the Easter bank holiday weekend 20/04/19 (top), and the near deserted beach today (bottom), as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
People walk along a near deserted Bournemouth beach, as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Police officers patrol the sea front in a police car on Bournemouth beach, as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The M5 motorway in Worcester, Worcestershire, which is normally busy during the Easter bank holiday getaway, is quiet as the UK continues in lockdown to reduce the spread of coronavirus.
Embargoed to 0001 Saturday April 11 The Rev Peter Sutton records the Easter Sunday sermon in the Memorial chapel at the Parish Church of St Cuthbert in Edinburgh, the church has been streaming sermons as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Composite image showing an empty beach in Scarborough (top) dated date Saturday April 11, 2020 and the same scene (bottom) taken in 2019 over the Easter weekend, as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A runner passes street art in appreciation of the NHS placed near to the Francis Drake Bowls Club in Hilly Fields Park, in Lewisham, as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A man jogs on New Brighton Beach near Liverpool as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
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"There are legislative elements which will need to be sorted out at the appropriate time, but we will continue to review the evidence."

Under the government's "stay at home" restrictions, people are only allowed to go outside for food, health reasons or work (but only if they cannot work from home). If people do go outside, they must stay two metres away from others.

During Monday's daily government briefing, Raab said it was still unclear if the UK should have introduced its COVID-19 restrictions earlier, following continued criticism it was too slow to respond to the pandemic.

The Times reported that Raab is expected to ask leaders in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to attend a Cobra meeting to ensure a UK-wide approach in setting a new restrictions deadline.

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A three-week extension of social distancing measures is the maximum permitted under emergency legislation.

On Monday, Raab insisted the government's plan to tackle the pandemic "is working", despite the death toll going past 11,000 and continued questions over testing and personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers.

Raab said the latest data suggested the UK was "starting to win this struggle", three weeks after restrictions were imposed.

But he insisted the virus was not yet past its peak and that it was "far too early" to talk about relaxing the measures.

Screen grab of Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COVID-19). (Photo by PA Video/PA Images via Getty Images)

"Our plan is working," he said. "Please stick with it, and we'll get through this crisis together."

Raab said it was crucial that "we do not take our eye off the ball" when it comes to social distancing.

It came as the World Health Organization (WHO) said restrictions should be lifted slowly and not "all at once" to avoid a resurgence of the virus, and only if appropriate measures are in place, including "significant" capacity for contact tracing.

But experts have also warned that the public's will to stick to the measures could fade and the government needs to find a way to tell the nation about how they will be eased.

Professor Linda Bauld, from the college of medicine at the University of Edinburgh, said that while public compliance is currently strong, "this won't last".

She added: "There will come a tipping point when the cost of the current restrictions outweighs the benefits."

"Sooner rather than later, government needs to share the possible options with the public and be transparent about the costs and benefits of each, rather than continually evading questions on this, as is currently the case."

This article originally appeared on Yahoo
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