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Lockdown until 2021 and all talk of 'exit strategy' is banned: 'Tentative' Boris Johnson sides with Cabinet 'doves' who want restrictions until coronavirus is crushed as experts warn ANY lifting of measures 'will see explosion in cases'

The UK faces tough coronavirus curbs until 2021 amid claims Boris Johnson's personal battle with the disease has made him 'tentative' about lifting lockdown.
Tories have suggested the PM is 'frightened' of taking chances with the deadly virus after his own close call, despite fears the economic havoc might prove even more damaging to public health.
The pressure is intensifying on ministers to plot a way out of the crisis, but divisions have emerged between cautious 'doves' and 'hawks' who believe the NHS has capacity and would prefer to loosen the draconian social distancing measures earlier.
The PM has intervened from his recuperation at Chequers to snuff out speculation about an imminent easing, with Downing Street making clear his priority is avoiding a 'second peak' in the outbreak. 

There are reports Mr Johnson's close circle has stopped using the phrase 'exit strategy' and instead wants to signal a 'next phase' of lockdown, with varying levels of restrictions set to continue for the rest of the year until the virus gets 'close to eradication' or a vaccine is found.
The 'doves' have been supported by grim behind-the-scenes warnings from scientists, who have advised that control of the outbreak is still so uncertain that even slight changes to the curbs on normal life could result in a disastrous flare-up.
In other developments today:  
  • Official figures suggest the true number of coronavirus victims in the UK may be 41 per cent higher than previously announced. Mortality data released by the ONS imply the death toll might be closer to 23,000 than 16,509; 
  • An RAF plane sent to collect crucial PPE for the NHS from Turkey still has not started its return journey with ministers admitting it might be 'days' before the supplied arrive; 
  • The House of Commons is returning from Easter recess, but only to approve a 'virtual' Parliament that will kick off tomorrow.
How members of the cabinet are currently split over the ending of the lockdown. Mr Johnson (top left) and Matt Hancock (bottom left) are classed as 'doves'; Michael Gove, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak (right, top-to-bottom) as 'hawks'; and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab (top centre) is among those in the middle, with Gavin Williamson (centre) and Alok Sharma (centre bottom)
How members of the cabinet are currently split over the ending of the lockdown. Mr Johnson (top left) and Matt Hancock (bottom left) are classed as 'doves'; Michael Gove, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak (right, top-to-bottom) as 'hawks'; and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab (top centre) is among those in the middle, with Gavin Williamson (centre) and Alok Sharma (centre bottom)
There is no prospect of lockdown measures being eased before the current period comes to an end on May 11.
However, some senior Tories have been pushing plans for an easing soon afterwards, pointing out that the NHS is still below surge capacity and could 'run hot' to limit the economic meltdown.  
Before his illness there were rumours Mr Johnson was alarmed about the devastation being wrought on UK plc. 
However, the premier, who was released from hospital a week ago, is now seen as aligned with the Cabinet 'doves' cautious about shifting too early. 
According to the Times, Mr Johnson is thought to be leaning towards 'a longer lockdown that aims to drive the virus close to eradication, allowing occasional flare-ups to be isolated and shut down through testing and contact tracing'.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who also contracted coronavirus, is also urging a safety-first approach, regarding a second wave of the virus as more dangerous than the impact of lockdown. 
Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Trade Secretary Liz Truss, and Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove are thought to be more hawkish about the need to ease restrictions sooner - although they have been toeing the line in public. 
Downing Street has been furiously playing down hints that schools could partly reopen in the middle of next month, with June now looking the earliest timetable. 
Government scientists have been warning that the situation is currently so finely balanced that even marginal loosenings could have disastrous effects,
One Cabinet source told the Guardian the government's advisers on Sage had suggested any easing would push up the rate of transmission - known as R.
The source said: 'The scientists are very clear. There's no loosening of measures we can do that won't bring the R back over 1. 
'There may be some small changes on their own that could do it, but the question is whether behaviours change in other ways and push the R above 1. 
'The second you have the R above one then you're back to exponential growth.
'We did have an R of about 3. And we've driven that down. But even a small increase in transmission could put you above 1.' 
There are claims that Mr Hancock (pictured in Downing Street today) is being lined up as a fall guy for the government's coronavirus blunders
There are claims that Mr Hancock (pictured in Downing Street today) is being lined up as a fall guy for the government's coronavirus blunders 
Amid calls from senior Tories for the government to spell out an exit strategy, one MP told The Times that fighting for his life in intensive care had changed Mr Johnson.
The MP said: 'The Prime Minister is in a funny place, I think he's quite frightened. His illness and the warning from the doctors has really hit him hard.
'To find himself floored like this has really got into his head. He has become really tentative.'   
There are growing signs that Mr Johnson could be back in action soon, with Downing Street confirming he is now receiving daily updates and speaking to deputy Dominic Raab by phone - although he is still not doing official work. 
While there are some ministers taking stronger positions either way, the bulk of the Cabinet - including Mr Raab - are content to wait for more evidence. Scientists have been asked to present options for the lockdown by the end of the month. 
As tensions rise, Mr Hancock is reportedly being lined up as the 'fall guy' for the government's coronavirus failures - particularly his high-profile 100,000 daily testing target. 
Mr Hancock has been one of the government's most visible ministers during the outbreak after returning to the frontline following his own battle with the disease. 
But he is under increasing pressure from critics who have questioned the wisdom of promising to increase the number of tests to six figures a day by the end of this month. 
They have also attacked Mr Hancock over his handling of PPE shortages which have seen doctors, nurses and care home staff blast the government for failing to do enough to keep them safe. 
Government insiders told the Telegraph Mr Hancock has 'not had a good crisis' while a former Cabinet minister said some in Whitehall believe the Health Secretary had developed 'a sort of Messiah complex'. 
Some now expect Mr Hancock to be moved from the Department of Health before a widely-anticipated future inquiry is held into the government's response to the outbreak. 
The UK yesterday announced 449 more coronavirus deaths - the fewest for a fortnight - taking Britain's total death toll to 16,509.   
The death toll for Monday was a fall on the 596 fatalities announced on Sunday, and half as many as the day before that (888). It was the lowest number for a fortnight, since April 6 when 439 victims were confirmed.
Although the statistics are known to drop after a weekend, the sharp fall adds to evidence that the peak of the UK's epidemic has blown over. 
However, new figures today suggested the true number of coronavirus victims in the UK may still be 41 per cent higher than daily Government statistics are letting on.
Weekly data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that at least 13,121 people had died in England and Wales by April 10.
Department of Health statistics had, by that date, announced only 9,288 fatalities - the backdated deaths increased the total by 41.2 per cent. That suggests the death toll of 16,509 confirmed yesterday could in reality be closer to 23,000.
And care homes in England and Wales had recorded the deaths of at least 1,644 residents by April 10 - 10 per cent of all the UK's COVID-19 deaths. Today's update is one of the first real official glimpses of the crisis gripping the care sector.
Fifteen per cent of all people dying with COVID-19 were succumbing to their illness outside of hospitals, the stats showed, revealing the crisis cannot be managed solely by the NHS.
And one in every three people (33.6 per cent) who died of any cause between April 4 and April 10 had coronavirus.
A leading expert at the University of Oxford argued yesterday that the peak was actually about a month ago, a week before lockdown started on March 23, and that the draconian measures people are now living with were unnecessary.
Professor Carl Heneghan claims data shows infection rates halved after the Government launched a public information campaign on March 16 urging people to wash their hands and keep two metres (6'6') away from others. 
He said ministers 'lost sight' of the evidence and rushed into a nationwide quarantine six days later after being instructed by scientific advisers who he claims have been 'consistently wrong' during the crisis. 
Professor Heneghan hailed Sweden - which has not enforced a lockdown despite fierce criticism - for 'holding its nerve' and avoiding a 'doomsday scenario'. 
The country has recorded just 392 new patients and 40 deaths today, approximately 10 per cent of the UK's figures. Britain's diagnoses have not been announced yet.
In separate research, the Oxford professor said he estimates that the true death rate among people who catch the virus is between 0.1 and 0.36 per cent, considerably lower than the 13 per cent currently playing out in the UK.

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