UK PM vows to transform country in next 10 years despite pandemic

LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday pledged to transform his country over the next decade despite the raging coronavirus pandemic.
“Even in the darkest moments we can see the bright future ahead. And we can see how to build it and we will build it together,” Johnson said at the virtual annual conference of the ruling Conservative party, which is overshadowed by a sharp rise of COVID-19 cases in Britain.
In a Tory Party conference speech delivered to an empty studio, the prime minister said that his government would use the crisis of the “plague” to create a better country.
The British government would improve care home funding, explore the value of one-to-one teaching for pupils and encourage mortgages to help young people onto the housing ladder, he said.
Among others, he pledged to invest in high-skilled, green-collar jobs in wind, solar, nuclear, hydrogen and in carbon capture and storage.
Johnson also set out plans to power every home in Britain with offshore wind energy by 2030, a move he said would create “hundreds of thousands, if not millions of jobs” in the next decade.
He said the coronavirus pandemic could not “hold us back or slow us down.”
“It is not enough to go back to normal. We have lost too much. We have mourned too many…We will not content ourselves with a repair job,” he added.
“We have been through too much frustration and hardship just to settle for the status quo ante — to think that life can go on as it was before the plague; and it will not,” he said.
In a speech that was heavy on hopeful rhetoric but lighter on detailed policy announcements or foreign policies, Johnson said that Britain would see off the virus “just as this country has seen off every alien invader for the last thousand years”.
Meanwhile, concerns are growing over the rising coronavirus infections in the country.
Another 12,594 people in Britain have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to 515,571, according to official figures released Monday.
The coronavirus-related deaths rose by 19 to 42,369, the latest data showed.
The figures came after Public Health England (PHE) said a total of 15,841 cases between Sept. 25 and Oct. 2 were unreported in Britain’s daily case figures due to a technical glitch.
According to the BBC, a significant proportion of the unreported cases are from the northwest of England, one of the areas hit hardest by coronavirus. The unreported coronavirus cases have delayed efforts to trace contacts of people who tested positive. More than 50,000 potentially infectious people may have been missed by contact tracers and not told to self-isolate due to the technical problem, according to a report by The Guardian newspaper. British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Monday that the technical error is a “serious issue” and is being “investigated fully”.
Previously, Johnson has warned that Britain’s fight against coronavirus pandemic may be “bumpy through to Christmas” as the country continues to see a sharp rise in infections.–Agencies