Boris Johnson is back in Downing Street and his return to work is undoubtedly a moment of success in this grim coronavirus crisis.
The prime minister has survived this horrible disease, but sadly tens of thousands of others have not.
He was away for three weeks and the country he leads has changed beyond recognition.
COVID – pandemic and we are all counting the cost – some much more than others.
With the UK now into a sixth week of lockdown, political consensus – and public support – is beginning to fray.
Many want to move on, but Mr Johnson marked his return to Number by managing lockdown expectations.
Likening the virus to a mugger, the prime minister said this was the moment “we have begun together to wrestle it to the floor”.
But he warned that easing up social restrictions now would bring “not only a new wave of death and disease but also an economic disaster”.
He said: “I ask you to contain your impatience because I believe we are coming now to the end of the first phase of this conflict. “
The big question now is what comes next?
If the government has the answers, it is not willing to share them with the public quite yet.
The government has set out five tests for adjusting the lockdown.
These are that the NHS has capacity to provide critical care across the UK; there is a sustained and consistent fall in daily deaths from coronavirus; the rate of infection has decreased to manageable levels across the board; operational issues on testing and PPE are in hand; and any adjustments will not risk a second peak.
:: Listen to the Daily podcast on Apple Podcasts , Google Podcasts , Spotify , Spreaker
Crucial to all of the five tests is controlling, detecting, and lowering transmission rates.
The prime minister said on Monday that he cannot risk letting the reproduction rate of coronavirus in the UK go back over one.
The R0 rate measures the rate of transmission.
If the reproduction rate is above one, the disease will spread .
An R0 rate of three would mean that every infected person would infect three other people, and they would then each go on, combined, to each infect another nine people and so on.
Conversely if the R0 rate is 0.5, it means two people with the disease infect one other person, or 24 people only infect five.
While hospital admissions are falling and the growth in new cases and deaths is slowing, Professor Chris Whitty, NHS England’s chief medical officer, warned on Monday that the R0 rate – which he said was at the “middle point” between 0.5 to one – gives the government ” some room for manoeuvre but does not give a huge room for manoeuvre “.
So when it comes to lifting restrictions, Prof Whitty said the job of the scientists sitting on the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies ( SAGE), is to tell ministers how much the R0 value will go up by with each decision they take in lifting the lockdown.
The hard choices are stacking up.
Prof Whitty suggested on Monday that the more children who return to school, the less the government can ease other rules.
Which bit of lockdown will be lifted first? Will the government prioritise kids returning to school, workplaces, or bars and restaurants?
Will our social lives be sacrificed in order to try to get people back to work?
Even if the government can begin to flex the lockdown come 7 May when the next review comes around, life will not return to normal anytime soon.
Living with coronavirus will require rewiring our lives for some time yet.
Prof Whitty was also clear that the coronavirus pandemic “has got a very long way to run” when I asked him about a likely overall death toll, which is already above , – and that figure does not include deaths in care homes and the community.
“I’m really cautious about putting out these kind of absolute numbers, because this could go in a lot of different ways over the next many months until such time as we have a clear exit that has a vaccine or drugs or some other route that allows us to be able to say now we can stop people dying from this, “he said.
GIPHY App Key not set. Please check settings