UK is past the peak, says PM Johnson, promising lockdown exit plan

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Britain was now past the peak of its coronavirus outbreak and promised to set out a lockdown exit strategy next week.

Holding his first news conference Thursday (April 30) since recovering from COVID-19, and a day after his fiancee gave birth, Johnson urged Britons to stick with restrictions designed to slow the spread.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH PRIME MINISTER BORIS JOHNSON SAYING:"I can confirm today that for the first time, we are past the peak of this disease. We are past the peak and we are on a downward slope. We have so many reasons to be hopeful for the long-term.”

He said there would be a "menu of options" on how the lockdown could be relaxed, but didn’t give further details on a timeframe.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH PRIME MINISTER BORIS JOHNSON SAYING:"I will be setting out a comprehensive plan next week to explain how we get our economy moving, how we get our children back to school, back to child care second and third, how we can travel to work and how we can make life in the workplace safer.

Britain now has the second-highest official COVID-19 death toll in Europe with more than 26,000 deaths.

Thursday also marked the deadline for Britain to reach its target of 100,000 daily tests. Latest figures showed they were more than 18,000 short of that number a day earlier, with figures for Thursday due to be published on Friday.