Britain extends COVID-19 lockdown for at least 3 weeks

Britain has extended its COVID-19 lockdown for "at least the next three weeks", said Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on Thursday. Raab is deputising for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is still recovering from the novel coronavirus. 

Britain is among the countries worst hit by the COVID-19 outbreak, reporting hundreds of deaths per day. 

Raab, speaking at his daily Downing Street press conference, said it was "too soon" to lift the strict social distancing regime put into place in the UK on March 23. 

"The government has decided that the current measures must remain in place for at least the next three weeks," he said. "The worst thing we could do right now is ease up too soon.”

Under the lockdown, Britain has shut "non-essential" shops and services, and banned gatherings of more than two people.

Raab also indicated that the government would be in no hurry to lift the lockdown and that when it ultimately does so, it would be in a phased manner. 

"We will only do it when the evidence demonstrates that it is safe to do it," Raab said. "It could involve relaxing measures in some areas while strengthening measures in other areas, but… we will be at all times guided by the scientific advice and the evidence."

"Now is not the moment to give the coronavirus a second chance," he added. 

Britain has more than 100,000 people infected with the virus with nearly 14,000 deaths.