British PM Johnson: Too risky to relax coronavirus lockdown yet

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson returned to work Monday (April 27) after recovering from the coronavirus - and insisted it's too risky to relax the lockdown yet.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH PRIME MINISTER, BORIS JOHNSON, SAYING:

"This is the moment of opportunity, this is the moment where we can press home our advantage. It is also the moment of maximum risk, because I know there will be many people looking now at our apparent success and beginning to wonder whether now is the time to go easy on those social distancing measures. And I know how hard and how stressful it has been to give up, even temporarily, those ancient and basic freedoms, not seeing friends, not seeing loved ones, working from home, managing the kids, worrying about your job, and your firm."

Johnson arrived back in Downing Street on Sunday (April 26) to enormous challenges in front of him.

The UK's death toll is well over 20,000 and rising, the economy is facing possibly the deepest recession in three centuries - and his party and scientific advisers are divided over how and when to begin easing restrictions.

Johnson, though, was keen to stress that the country could not risk a second wave of infections.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH PRIME MINISTER, BORIS JOHNSON, SAYING:

"We must also recognize the risk of a second spike, the risk of losing control of that virus and letting the reproduction rate go back over one. Because that would mean not only a new wave of death and disease but also an economic disaster and we would be forced once again to slam on the brakes across the whole country and the whole economy, and reimpose restrictions in such a way as to do more and lasting damage."

And it's that NHS to which Johnson owes his life, after he was admitted to intensive care with the virus three weeks ago.

His government has been criticised for failing to supply all health workers with enough personal protective equipment.

And it has a big task ahead in reaching its target of 100,000 tests a day by the end of the month.

But Johnson was adamant that better days lie ahead.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH PRIME MINISTER, BORIS JOHNSON, SAYING:

"If we can show the same spirit of unity and determination as we have all shown in the past six weeks then I have absolutely no doubt that we will beat it, together we will come through this all the faster, and the United Kingdom will emerge stronger than ever before. Thank you all very much."