Boris Johnson said he “refuses to risk a second major outbreak” of coronavirus by lifting the lockdown too early and urged the British public not to lose patience with the restrictions.
Speaking outside Downing Street, the prime minister said we were “coming to the end of the first phase of the conflict” and the country was beginning to “turn the tide” against coronavirus.
But he said it was too early to lift the lockdown and undo the hard work of the British people.
Mr Johnson said: “And so I know it is tough. And I want to get this economy moving as fast as I can, but I refuse to throw away all the effort and the sacrifice of the British people and to risk a second major outbreak and huge loss of life and the overwhelming of the NHS.
“And I ask you to contain your impatience, because I believe we are coming now to the end of the first phase of this conflict and in spite of all the suffering we have so nearly succeeded.
“We defied so many predictions. We did not run out of ventilators or ICU beds. We did not allow our NHS to collapse, and on the contrary we have so far collectively shielded our NHS so that our incredible doctors and nurses and healthcare staff have been able to shield all of us from an outbreak that would have been far worse and we collectively flattened the peak.”
Mr Johnson returned back to Number 10 on Sunday evening, around a month since he was diagnosed with coronavirus.
He spent a week at St Thomas’ Hospital in central London, including three nights in intensive care.
The prime minster faces growing pressure from Tory MPs to begin lifting the lockdown.
Mr Johnson prepared for his return with a three-hour summit meeting on Friday with Mr Raab and Chancellor Rishi Sunak.
He will chair the morning Cabinet meeting on Covid-19 and hold talks with senior officials and ministers.