‘Tough times ahead’ controlling coronavirus, Johnson says

British PM looks to winter and 2022, urging people to help NHS by getting flu vaccine

Boris Johnson has warned of "tough times ahead" as the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that cases of coronavirus in England have stopped falling. Speaking a year to the day after he became prime minister, Mr Johnson said he believed Britain would be "well on the way past" coronavirus by the middle of next year.

“I must be clear with people, I do still think that we have tough times ahead in keeping this virus under control. We have tough times ahead in coming through economically. But I’ve absolutely no doubt that we are going to and this country is going to bounce back stronger than ever before,” he told Sky News.

Britain’s official death toll from coronavirus reached 45,677 on Friday, an increase of 138 over the previous day. The ONS said that between July 13th-19th, an estimated 27,700 people in England had coronavirus, about 0.5 per cent of the population.

Lockdown measures

"Despite decreases in the level of Covid-19 infection from mid-May to mid-June this has slowed in recent weeks and has now levelled off. As the government relaxes lockdown measures, we are closely monitoring these results for any changes," ONS statistician Heather Bovill said.


In an interview with the BBC on Friday evening, the prime minister admitted that the government did not properly understand the virus in the early weeks of the pandemic and that there were lessons to be learned.

“We didn’t understand it in the way that we would have liked in the first few weeks and months. And I think probably, the single thing that we didn’t see at the beginning was the extent to which it was being transmitted asymptomatically from person to person,” he said.

Junk food ads

“I think it’s fair to say that there are things that we need to learn about how we handled it in the early stages.”

The British government is expected to announce new restrictions on advertising junk food in an effort to reduce obesity, a major risk factor in poor outcomes from coronavirus. The government on Friday announced plans to double the number of people who will receive the winter flu vaccine this year, an attempt to ease pressure on the National Health Service (NHS) in case coronavirus surges again.

"Now the reason for doing this is to protect the NHS in the winter months because obviously we have still got Covid, we have still got the threat of a second spike of Covid, and it's vital therefore to keep that pressure off the NHS by everybody getting a flu jab and I really hope everybody will," Mr Johnson said.

“There’s all these anti-vaxxers now. They are nuts, they are nuts.”

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton is China Correspondent of The Irish Times