BBC- Ministers are later expected to announce a three-week extension to the coronavirus lockdown.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab will lead emergency Cobra committee and cabinet meetings about the continuation of social distancing measures.

Labour has said it will support an extension, but also called for details on how and when the lockdown would end.

Meanwhile, social care directors have said distribution of protective kit for carers has been “shambolic”.

There have been 27 verified deaths with coronavirus among NHS staff, the Health Secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed.

On extending the lockdown, Mr Hancock told BBC Breakfast he believed the government had been clear “we think it too early to make a change”. 

He said: “We can see that we’re reaching a peak, that is good news, but we can see that the numbers are not yet coming down, therefore we can’t make a change.”

Mr Hancock added that he did not want to put the “good effort” of the public to waste by ending the lockdown too early.

“If we just released all the measures now then this virus would run rampant,” he said. 

The health secretary is due to meet the first ministers of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales later ahead of making a formal decision on the lockdown. 

During Wednesday’s daily press briefing, Mr Hancock said restrictions on movement were beginning to help reduce the spread of the virus.

The UK’s chief medical adviser, Prof Chris Whitty, has warned of a possible “bounce” in the numbers soon, due to delays in reporting deaths over the Easter weekend.

He said while the UK was “probably” reaching the peak of its epidemic, the high numbers of deaths were expected to continue for a “short while” longer.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson introduced strict curbs on life in the UK on 23 March, as the government sought to limit the spread of the virus.

Since then, people have been allowed to leave home only to exercise once a day, travel to and from work when “absolutely necessary”, shop for essential items and fulfil medical or care needs.

Ministers are required by law to assess whether the rules are working, based on expert advice, every three weeks.

The government – led by Mr Raab as Mr Johnson continues to recover from the virus – will detail the outcome of the first assessment at the daily Downing Street news conference later.

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