Boris Johnson today denied bungling coronavirus lockdowns as he held out hope that scientific developments could mean a ‘different approach’ in the next ‘few weeks and months’.
The PM defended his handling of the crisis amid growing criticism and disquiet on his own benches.
As the virtual Tory conference gets underway, Mr Johnson urged the public to be ‘fearless but use common sense’.
He said ‘in the course of the next few weeks and months the scientific equation will change’ and that would allow a ‘different approach’.
But in an interview on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show, he cautioned: ‘it will continue to be bumpy through to Christmas. It may even be bumpy beyond.’
He added: ‘This could be a very tough winter for all of us.’
In an interview on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show, Boris Johnson cautioned: ‘it will continue to be bumpy through to Christmas. It may even be bumpy beyond.’
The comments came after almost 13,000 new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in the UK yesterday – double the number for the previous day.
However, the Department of Health blames the spike on a technical problem, without saying exactly what the issue was.
Mr Johnson said: ‘The reason for that is because there was a failure in the counting system.’
He also suggested that it might have meant delays in some people getting crucial test results.
‘All the people who had a positive test result have now been notified,’ he said.
Mr Johnson acknowledged that people were ‘furious’ with him about the pandemic.
But he insisted he could not do as some wished and let the disease ‘rip’ to protect the economy.
Mr Johnson said: ‘On the one hand we have the imperative to save life, it is a moral imperative to save life if we possibly can.
‘On the other hand we have to keep our economy moving and our society going.
‘That is the balance that we are trying to strike and that’s why we have got the package of measures now that are in force both nationally and locally.
‘What we want people to do is behave fearlessly but with common sense, to follow the guidance – whether national or local – get the virus down but allow us as a country to continue with our priorities.’
He said he believed the science would ‘change’ in the coming months which would allow the Government and the country to alter its approach to dealing with Covid-19.
He said: ‘What I hope, and I believe very strongly, is that in the course of the next weeks and months, the scientific equation will change and we will start to see progress, whether it is on vaccines or on testing, that will enable us to take a different approach.
‘But for the moment, that is the balance that people have to adopt, that is the line we have to follow.’
The Government said that, as of 9am on Saturday, there had been a further 12,872 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus.
As of 9am on Friday, there had been a further 6,968 lab-confirmed cases in the UK.
The official dashboard said on Saturday that due to a technical issue, which has now been resolved, there was a delay in publishing a number of cases.
This means that the total reported over the coming days will include some additional cases from the period between September 24 and October 1.
Experts have previously warned that describing the daily figure as a record could be ‘misleading’ as it is not clear how many people were actually infected during the height of the first wave due to a lack of community testing at the time.
Saturday’s figure brings the total number of cases in the UK to 480,017.
The Government also said a further 49 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Saturday. This brings the UK total to 42,317.
Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show there have now been nearly 57,900 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.
Other figures show there were 2,194 Covid-19 patients in hospital in England as of Saturday, up from 1,622 a week ago, while 307 Covid-19 hospital patients were in ventilation beds, up from 223 a week ago.
Coronavirus deaths have remained at a relatively low level despite the increase in cases
A total of 368 patients with confirmed Covid-19 were admitted to hospitals in England on Thursday, compared with 288 a week earlier.
Cabinet minister Brandon Lewis was asked about a technical issue with reporting test data that saw more than 12,000 additional UK positive coronavirus cases declared by the Government on Saturday.
He told the Sophy Ridge programme: ‘This is an issue between September 24 and October 1.
‘Those numbers have been put in as of yesterday and as you say, has had that impact on the numbers.
‘I would say actually this is a testament to how focused the Department of Health, Public Health England, the Test and Trace are around the system.
‘We are being transparent about this, we’re publishing the figures daily.
‘As soon as they’ve spotted there was an issue, they’ve dug into that, they’ve got to the bottom of those numbers, they have been transparent and published the correct numbers and of course the teams will be looking through that to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
‘All the way through this we have been looking at how we can share information with the public as quickly as we can, as transparently as we can because that’s part of explaining to people just how dangerous and how quick this virus is in the way it spreads.’