Britain’s battle with coronavirus could be over as early as the spring, Boris Johnson has claimed, as he fought to keep restive Tory MPs behind his plan for a four-week second lockdown in England.
Mr Johnson told the House of Commons there was “no alternative” to the package of tightened restrictions which he announced on Saturday, citing scientific advice that without action, there could be twice as many deaths over the winter as in the first wave of Covid-19 in the spring.
Mr Johnson made clear he was placing his hopes for an end to the crisis in the introduction of mass testing of millions of Britons, along with the potential development of vaccines and improved treatments.
He said that the army would be involved within the next few weeks in the roll-out of millions of rapid-turnaround tests, which would help reduce the crucial reproduction rate of the disease – known as R – below one by the time the new restrictions expire on 2 December.
The tests, capable of delivering a result within 10-20 minutes, had been shown to suppress the virus in hospitals, schools and universities, he said.
Mr Johnson told MPs: “While scientists are bleak in their predictions over the short term, they are unanimously optimistic about the medium and the long term.
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