Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday made his first public appearance since being hospitalised with coronavirus three weeks ago, saying Britain was beginning to “turn the tide” on the outbreak but rejecting growing calls to ease a nationwide lockdown.

In a statement in Downing Street marking his return to work, looking thinner and with his trademark blond hair a little longer, Johnson apologised for being away “for much longer than I would have liked”.

He thanked the British people for heeding a month of stay-at-home orders, which has helped stem the spread of COVID-19, although more than 20,000 people have already died from the virus.

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