The coronavirus lockdown will be extended for another three weeks, the Government is expected to announce amid renewed warnings that it is still too soon to start easing the restrictions.
Ministers will meet on Thursday morning to agree to prolong the social distancing controls announced on March 23, amid signs the epidemic in the UK is beginning to peak.
The Cabinet meeting comes after the number of people who have died in hospital after testing positive for Covid-19 in the UK reached almost 13,000, with growing concern over increasing deaths in care homes.
The number of deaths involving coronavirus in Scotland has risen to more than 1000 – with one in four occurring in care homes, according to National Records of Scotland statistics.
Downing Street said the three-week review of the lockdown regulations will go ahead as planned in line with the coronavirus legislation.
However, ministers and officials have repeatedly made clear there is no prospect of any imminent relaxation.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said the party will back an extension, but has called on ministers to set out an “exit strategy” explaining how they will eventually be lifted.
Speaking at the daily No 10 press conference on Wednesday, health secretary Matt Hancock said there could be no “let up” in the efforts to curb the spread of the virus.
“We cannot let go of the hard work that has been done so far. This shared sacrifice is starting to work but we will not lift these measures until it is safe to do so,” he said.
Foreign secretary Dominic Raab – standing in for Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he continues to recuperate from the disease – will chair a meeting of the Cabinet on Thursday morning.
It is expected that ministers will be briefed on the latest situation by the Government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.
Mr Raab will then lead a meeting of the Cobra civil contingencies committee when it is expected that the extension of the lockdown will be formally approved.
The leaders of the devolved administrations for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will take part by video link.
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