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Coronavirus pandemic ‘will be bumpy through to Christmas and maybe beyond’, PM warns

Written by on 4 October 2020

The coronavirus pandemic “will be bumpy through to Christmas” and potentially beyond that, Boris Johnson has warned, as he said it is “too early to say” whether local lockdowns are effective in bringing down infection rates.

The prime minister acknowledged there will be some members of the public who are “furious at me” and “furious at the government” amid the continuing COVID-19 restrictions.

“I’ve got to tell you in all candour it’s going to continue to be bumpy through to Christmas, it may even be bumpy beyond,” he said in an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.

“But this is the only way to do it.”

Mr Johnson said the government was “working flat out” to allow for an easing of coronavirus restrictions in time for the festive period, but he again cautioned: “Be in no doubt that it is still very possible that there are bumpy, bumpy months ahead.

“This could be a very tough winter for all of us – we’ve got to face that fact.”

In a bid to offer some optimism, the PM said he believed “very strongly” that the “scientific equation” surrounding the virus will change in the coming weeks and months and “we will start to see progress, whether it is on vaccines or on testing, that will enable us to take a different approach”.

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He said it is a “possibility” that there will be “significant progress” on a vaccine this year, but he does not “want to get people’s hopes up on the vaccine unnecessarily”.

On local lockdowns, Mr Johnson was asked specifically about Oldham, which has seen its infection rate double despite being under tighter restrictions for the past six weeks.

The PM told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “The advice that we’re getting is that in these areas where we’ve got stringent local lockdowns, we’ve got to wait and see if the R number starts to come down.”

His interview came after government figures showed there were a further 12,872 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the UK as of 9am on Saturday.

A technical glitch may mean that the actual daily figure is somewhat smaller.

Mr Johnson said he understood people’s “frustration” at differing rules and restrictions for different parts of the country.

But he said one the alternatives he had heard suggested was to “let it rip”, something Mr Johnson said he “just can’t accept”.

“And as prime minister I couldn’t take a course that could expose us to tens of thousands more deaths in very short order,” he continued.

“And, you know, we’ve got to continue to bear down on this virus, whilst protecting the economy. That’s the balance we’ve got to strike.”