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U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave a sober address Thursday on his country's response to the coronavirus, saying "many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time."

The big picture: Johnson said the world was now facing "the worst public health crisis in a generation." His science advisers said the country was now moving from the "contain" phase to the "delay" phase — trying to spread the outbreak over a longer period and protect those most at risk of dying.

What he's saying: "Some people compare it to seasonal flu, alas that is not right. Owing to the lack of immunity, this disease is more dangerous," Johnson said. "It's going to spread further."

  • He said the true number of cases was "higher, perhaps much higher" than what had been confirmed through testing.
  • He asked that anyone experiencing a "new, continuous cough" or a high temperature remain at home for seven days.
  • Johnson did not announce cancellations of large public events like sports games, but he said that step could be taken soon. He was challenged by reporters on why he was not following other countries in taking such steps.

Experts who spoke after Johnson made several key points:

  • The peak of the epidemic is likely several weeks away, and the goal is less to minimize the number of cases than to ensure that they're spread over a longer period of time so the health system can cope.
  • Schools are not being closed at this time. That's in part because they would have to be closed for 13–16 weeks to be truly effective in slowing transmission — during which time kids would be playing with one another and even staying with grandparents who might be at risk — and re-opening schools once the outbreak was at its most severe could be a risk.
  • The U.K.'s chief medical officer said taking steps like banning public gatherings "too early" could mean "people's enthusiasm runs out too early," and they're less compliant once the outbreak has grown more severe.
  • He also said the U.K. no longer needed to identify every case. People with mild symptoms who were remaining at home "do not need testing," he said. Seven days after symptoms surfaced, people would almost certainly no longer be contagious, he added.

Go deeper

New York AG finds Cuomo sexually harassed women, violated state and federal law

Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

An independent investigation found that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, including employees in his office, in violation of state and federal law, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: Cuomo, who has denied wrongdoing and urged critics to wait for the results of the independent inquiry, will now face renewed pressure to resign. He must also determine whether he will continue his 2022 re-election campaign.

2 hours ago - Health

New York City to require vaccination proof for indoor activities

New York City will require proof of vaccination to participate in indoor activities, including visiting gyms and restaurants, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: The mandate is the first of its kind for a major U.S. city, according to de Blasio. France and Italy announced similar requirements last month.

Updated 2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Exclusive: Facebook's first-ever paid movie premiere

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

For the first time ever, a film distributor will use Facebook to debut a movie exclusively via a ticketed live event, executives tell Axios.

Driving the news: "The Outsider," a controversial documentary about the construction of the 9/11 Museum in Manhattan, will premiere publicly on Facebook for $3.99 on Aug. 19.

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