Boris Johnson praises the courage of the British people on year anniversary of first coronavirus lockdown

PRIME minister Boris Johnson has praised the courage of the British people as he marked the force year anniversary since he announced the first lockdown to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 5:54 pm
Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (Covid-19). Picture date: Tuesday March 23, 2021.

Speaking at a Downing Street press conference, Mr Johnson said the nation had been ‘fighting in the dark’ against a ‘callous’ and invisible enemy but that science had helped ‘turn the lights on’.

The PM praised the ‘epic endurance and privations’ of the British people, who have endured three national lockdowns since the pandemic began last year.

But, in a message of hope, Mr Johnson insisted the nation was ‘step by step, jab by jab’ on the path to ‘reclaiming our freedoms’.

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He said: ‘It’s thanks to all of you therefore that we can continue on our road map to freedom.

‘We will meet our targets, offering a first dose to everyone over 50 by the middle of next month, as well as those under 50 who are clinically vulnerable, and offering a first dose of a vaccine to every adult by the end of July.

‘And cautiously but irreversibly, step by step, jab by jab, this country is on the path to reclaiming our freedoms.’

The press conference came as Britain marked a grim milestone of deaths, with more than 126,000 people having lost their lives because of the virus.

The prime minister vowed that a permanent memorial to those who died from coronavirus will be built and the ‘whole period’ will be commemorated.

‘At the right moment, we will come together as a country to build a fitting and a permanent memorial to the loved ones we’ve lost and to commemorate this whole period,’ he said.

‘For month after month, our collective fight against coronavirus was like fighting in the dark against a callous and invisible enemy until science helped us to turn the lights on and gain the upper hand.’

Question marks were raised over the government’s handling of the pandemic and whether action should have been taken more swiftly to tackle the virus.

The PM also faced pressure over the UK’s death toll, which is one of the world’s worst.

Mr Johnson said it was ‘premature’ to judge how a country has done as the pandemic was ‘still not over’.