British government plans to extend nationwide lockdown for several more weeks

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LONDON – The British government is set to extend a nationwide lockdown for several more weeks, as health officials say the coronavirus outbreak in the country is peaking.

Authorities are expected to announce an extension of restrictions on movement and business activity after a meeting Thursday of the government’s crisis committee, COBRA.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said “it is too early to make a change” to the lockdown introduced on March 23 in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus.

But as other European countries cautiously ease their measures, U.K. authorities face pressure to explain when and how the country will reopen.

As of Wednesday, 12,868 people had died in U.K. hospitals after testing positive for coronavirus. The figure does not include deaths in nursing homes and other settings.

Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said the U.K. is “probably reaching the peak overall” but that officials are “not yet at the point where we can say confidently and safely this is now past the peak.”

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