BORIS Johnson's health, intensive care bed numbers and the lockdown period were among the matters addressed in this evening's daily coronavirus briefing from the Government.

Dominic Raab hosted this conference whilst Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains in intensive care at St Thomas's Hospital in London.

Mr Raab said Mr Johnson is 'a fighter' who is receiving the very best care.

Mr Raab said: "He is not just the Prime Minister. For all of us in Cabinet, he is not just our boss.

"He is also a colleague and he is also our friend.

"So all our thoughts and prayers are with the Prime Minister at this time, with Carrie (Symonds) and his whole family.

"And I'm confident he will pull through because if there is one thing that I know about this Prime Minister is he is a fighter and he will be back leading us through this crisis in short order."

The Northern Echo:

Prime Minister Boris Johnson Picture: PA

Mr Raab, the Foreign Secretary and First Secretary of State, told the daily Downing Street coronavirus press conference: "He's receiving the very best care from the excellent medical team at St Thomas's Hospital.

"He remained stable overnight.

"He's receiving standard oxygen treatment and breathing without any assistance, he's not required any mechanical ventilation or non-invasive respiratory support.

"He remains in good spirits and in keeping with usual clinical practice his progress continues to be monitored closely in critical care."

Mr Raab is standing in for the Prime Minister "whenever necessary", including leading the daily meetings of the coronavirus "war cabinet".

He said he had "total confidence" in the arrangements the Prime Minister had put in place to allow the Foreign Secretary to deputise for him.

The Cabinet has "very clear instructions" from the Prime Minister whilst he remains in hospital, Mr Raab added.

"Well first of all, decision making by Government is made by collective Cabinet responsibilities, so that is the same as before.

"But we've got very clear directions, very clear instructions from the Prime Minister, and we're focused with total unity and total resolve on implementing them so that when he's back, I hope in very short order, we will have made the progress that he would expect and that the country would expect."

Asked whether the Government had decided to extend the lockdown, Dominic Raab said the worst thing the country could do was "take its foot off the peddle" in terms of the strict social distancing measures.

The Northern Echo:

Bishop Auckland is like a ghost town this week as people respect lockdown measures Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT

He said: "In terms of the review, we are not at that stage yet.

"We will take any decision when the time is right, based on the facts and the scientific and medical advice.

"Our number one and overriding focus right now is on conveying the key message which is that everyone needs to keep adhering to this guidance.

"There is a long Easter bank holiday weekend coming up, warm weather and we understand people are making big sacrifices to follow this guidance.

"It is helping, it is contributing to our ability to tackle the coronavirus.

"The worst thing now would be to take our foot off the peddle, to ease up on that and risk losing the gains that have been made.

"It is absolutely critical that people keep up that discipline and the vast majority will. We hope everyone will follow that example."

Meanwhile, Sir Patrick Vallance, Government chief scientific advisor, said there should not be an overall increase in demand above the number of ICU beds available.

The Northern Echo: Work continues at the ExCel centre in London which is being made into the NHS Nightingale hospital

Workers installing equipment at the Nightingale Hospital in London Picture: PA

He said: "There are always times in every winter when ICU beds top out in individual hospitals, and that may happen and I can't guarantee it won't.

"What we can say, though, is that the numbers as we look at them now look as though we should come in about right, there shouldn't be an overall increase above the number of beds available.

"The NHS, I think, has done an amazing job in terms of increasing the capacity of ICU and so things seem to be tracking in the right direction, but I don't think I can say more than that."

The total number of people in the UK tested for coronavirus since the outbreak began - 213,181, as of 9am on April 7 - is the equivalent of around 320 people in every 100,000, or 0.3% of the population.

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The number cannot be compared with the equivalent total from yesterday because the figures are missing data from Manchester and Leeds due to a processing delay.

The difference between the number of new deaths announced today by the Department of Health - 786 - and the combined total of new deaths announced today by health authorities in the four nations of the UK - 854 - is due to the difference in how and when the data is collected and reported.

Neither of these figures is an accurate measure of how many deaths have occurred in the UK since yesterday.