First let me first run you through the latest data on our coronavirus response.
4,786,219 tests for coronavirus have now been carried out or posted out in the UK, including 171,829 tests yesterday.
279,856 people have tested positive, and that’s an increase of 1,871 cases since yesterday.
7,485 people are in hospital with COVID-19 in the UK, down 16% from 8,921 this time last week.
And sadly, of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 39,728 have now died. That’s an increase of 359 fatalities since yesterday and once again we are with their families in mourning.
Now that the rate of transmission in the UK has significantly fallen from its peak, we need to take steps to manage the flare-ups and stop the virus re-emerging in the UK.
I want to update you on the progress we are making on three fronts to prevent a second wave of infections that could overwhelm the NHS.
First, we have set up NHS Test and Trace in order to identify, contain and control the virus in the UK, thereby reducing its spread.
As we move to the next stage of our fight against coronavirus, we will be able to replace national lockdowns with individual isolation and, if necessary, local action where there are outbreaks.
NHS Test and Trace will be vital to controlling the spread of the virus. It’s how we will be able to protect our friends and family from infection, and protect our NHS.
It does this by identifying anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, and asking them to isolate for 14 days in order to avoid unknowingly infecting others.
The system clearly relies on everyone playing their part.
So I want to stress again today: we need you to get a test if you have coronavirus symptoms – a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss of taste or smell.
There is plenty of capacity and everyone with symptoms is eligible, everyone with symptoms, so please order a test from nhs.uk/coronavirus as soon as you develop symptoms.
And we need you to isolate yourself if a contact tracer tells you that you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive.
NHS Test and Trace started operating a week ago. And already thousands of people are isolating who wouldn’t have been doing so before this service was introduced. They are thereby protecting others and reducing the spread of the virus.
So while we are going to all these efforts here in the UK to control the virus, we must also ensure we don’t reimport the virus from abroad.
So the second action I want to update you on is the introduction of public health measures at the border.
Today the Home Secretary has brought forward the legislation needed to establish the new regime from Monday.
And I want to explain the reasons for introducing these measures now.
When coronavirus started to spread around the world, first from Wuhan and then from northern Italy and other areas, we introduced enhanced monitoring at the border in an attempt to stop the virus from gaining a foothold in the UK.
These measures applied, at various different times, to arrivals from China, Japan, Iran and Italy, and required people with symptoms travelling from those countries to self-isolate for 14 days.
However, once community transmission was widespread within the UK, cases from abroad made up a tiny proportion of the total. At the same time you’ll remember that international travel plummeted as countries around the world went into lockdown. So as a result, measures at the border were halted because they made little difference at the time in our fight against the virus.
Now that we’re getting the virus under control in the UK, there’s a risk cases from abroad begin once again to make up a greater proportion of overall cases. We therefore need to take steps now to manage that risk of these imported cases triggering a second peak.
So just as we are asking people already in the UK to isolate for 14 days when contacted by NHS Test and Trace, we’re also asking those arriving from abroad to isolate so that they don’t unknowingly spread the virus.
There will be some exemptions for a limited number of people who need to cross the border, such as those engaged directly in the fight against coronavirus or who provide essential services.
And we will review how the policy is working after three weeks. And of course we will explore the possibility of international travel corridors with countries that have low rates of infection – but only when the evidence shows that it is safe to do so.
The third point I want to make today is we need effective international action to reduce the impact of the virus across the globe.
This is the moment really for humanity to unite in the fight against the disease.
Health experts have warned that if coronavirus is left to spread in developing countries, that could lead to future waves of infection coming back and reaching the UK.
While our amazing NHS has been there for everyone in this country who needs it, many developing countries have healthcare systems which are ill-prepared to manage this pandemic.
So to ensure that the world’s poorest countries have the support they need to slow the spread of the virus, tomorrow I will open the Global Vaccine Summit.
Hosted by the UK, and will bring together more than 50 countries and leading figures like Bill Gates to raise at least $7.4 billion for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
Over the next five years – with the UK’s support as Gavi’s biggest donor – this Vaccine Alliance aims to immunise a further 300 million children in the poorest countries against deadly diseases like polio, typhoid and measles – again saving millions of lives.
This support for routine immunisations will shore up poorer countries’ healthcare systems to deal with coronavirus – and so help to stop the global spread and, as I say, prevent a second wave of the virus reaching the UK.
This virus has shown how connected we are. We’re fighting an invisible enemy. And no one is safe frankly until we are all safe.
And again, of course this is all contingent upon each of us continuing to do our bit.
And as I never tire of telling you
Let us not forget the basics.
Wash your hands regularly and for 20 seconds, wash your hands.
Do not gather in groups of more than six outside.
Always observe social distancing, keeping 2 metres apart from anyone outside your household.
And I want to stress one final point which may be relevant today as the weather threatens I think to take a turn for the worse. Some of you may be tempted to move the gatherings you’ve been enjoying outdoors, indoors, out of the rain.
I really urge you – don’t do that.
We relaxed the rules on meeting outside for a very specific reason – because the evidence shows that the risks of transmission are much lower outdoors, much lower outdoors.
And the risks of passing on the virus are significantly higher indoors, which is why gatherings inside other people’s homes are still prohibited.
Breaking these rules now could undermine and reverse all the progress that we’ve made together.
I have no doubt that that won’t happen, I’ve no doubt that that won’t happen. I think the British public will continue to show the same resolve in fighting the virus as they have throughout the outbreak.
We will get through this if we stay alert, control the virus, and in doing so save lives.