The Health Secretary has urged Britons to resist the temptation to visit beaches and parks this weekend as the country continues to grapple with coronavirus

Speaking at today’s Downing Street press conference, Matt Hancock said: ‘This is a national effort, and every single person in this country can play their part in this plan. This Easter will be another test of the nation’s resolve.

It’s a time of year when people normally come together. ‘But however warm the weather, however tempting your local beach or park, we need everyone to stay at home. Because in hospitals across the country, NHS staff are battling day and night to keep desperately sick people breathing, and they need you to stay at home.’

It comes after police across the country caught people making getaways for the weekends, breaking Covid-19 lockdown rules against all non-essential travel. As authorities fight to curb the spread of the disease, the UK death toll rose by 980 to 8,958 people. The sick and dying need you to stay home over Easter.

Also updating the nation at today’s conference was Chief Nursing Officer for England Ruth May, who thanked the country for showing their gratitude to NHS staff with the Clap for Carers initiative. But she added: ‘There is no doubt that the single biggest thing that you can do is to stay at home, protect our NHS and save lives.’

Paying tribute to frontline staff who had died after contracting Covid-19, Ms May said the NHS ‘feel their loss deeply’.

She added: ‘You may have seen some TV coverage this week about what’s happening in our hospitals. ‘Dedicated, skilled, professional NHS staff calmly dealing with the mounting numbers of patients with coronavirus.

‘They are frank about the toll it takes, both physical and emotional. And of course nurses, healthcare assistants, midwives, and other NHS staff are now among the victims of this coronavirus.

‘Some have lost their lives. The NHS is a family and we feel their loss deeply.’ When asked how she feels about people flocking to parks and hundreds of house parties being broken up by police, Ms May said: ‘It’s very frustrating to see people clearly not doing social distancing and going out in large groups. ‘I was only on my way here, going over Westminster Bridge to see a whole hoard of cyclists coming together. It is enormously frustrating because there’s also still occasions where my colleagues – healthcare staff – are getting abuse from their neighbours for going off to work.’

‘Our nurses our healthcare staff need to be able to get to work, it’s right that they do.’

Ms May confirmed two new Nightingale hospitals are set to be built in Exeter and Sunderland soon to aid the fight against the Covid-19 outbreak. Deputy Chief Medical Officer Prof Jonathan Van-Tam revealed the number of people in hospital beds in London has dropped. He said new cases in the capital were slowing but they are rising in the North East of the city.

This afternoon it was announced Boris Johnson has been able to walk for a short distance as he continues to recover from coronavirus at London’s St Thomas’ Hospital. A Downing Street spokesperson said: ‘The Prime Minister has been able to do short walks, between periods of rest, as part of the care he is receiving to aid his recovery. ‘He has spoken to his doctors and thanks the whole clinical team for the incredible care he has received.