UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the coronavirus Britain's "biggest challenge since the war" as he returned to work on Monday after successfully battling Covid-19 himself.
In a statement to press outside his 10 Downing Street home, Johnson apologised for being "away from my desk" longer than he would have liked, and thanked "everyone who has stepped up", including Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who had been deputising for the Prime Minister in his absence.
"Every day I know that this virus brings new sadness," he said. "It is still true that this is the biggest single challenge this country has faced since the war. It is also true we are making progress."
Insisting that the UK is showing signs of having passed "through the peak" of the pandemic, Johnson added that it's vitally important not to lift lockdown restrictions too soon - as that could lead to a disastrous second spike of the virus and also cause lasting damage to the British economy.
Instead, the government will only lift the lockdown once they are certain there will be no second peak. But he has confidence Britain can conquer phase two of the disease, as it has conquered phase one.
Johnson promised "maximum transparency" going forward in terms of the decision that will be made about the future of the lockdown, and concluded his speech by staying that the U.K. will come through this if they can show the same sense of optimism as Captain Tom Moore - who has raised millions for coronavirus relief funds by walking 100 lengths of his garden to mark his 100th birthday.
Johnson's statement came after he returned to work for the first time since he was hospitalised in his battle against Covid-19. On 5 April - 10 days after testing positive for the virus - he was admitted to St. Thomas Hospital in London. The day after his admission, he was moved to intensive care when his condition worsened, but on 9 April he was moved out of the ICU and back onto a ward.
He was discharged from hospital on 12 April, and relocated to his country retreat of Chequers in Buckinghamshire, England to rest.