The OBR’s dire outlook for the economy could see the UK suffer the worst recession for three centuries, but experts warn against a knee-jerk move to end the coronavirus lockdown to save growth. While avoiding the use of the word “recession”, the Treasury has admitted in response to the OBR report that Britain was heading for a “very significant hit” from the coronavirus crisis. It comes as the coronavirus death toll rose to 12,107 as of 4pm Monday, a rise of 778 in the past 24 hours.
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Speaking at Downing Street, Mr Sunak said: “It is important to be clear that the OBR’s numbers are not a forecast of a prediction.
“They simply set out what one possible scenario might look like and it may not even be the most likely scenario.
“But it’s important we are honest with people about what might be happening in our economy.
“There are three brief points I want to make. First, the OBR’s figures suggest that the scale of what we are facing will have serious implications for our economy here at home.
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Rishi Sunak at the Downing Street daily briefing
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“These are are tough times and there will be more to come.
“As I’ve said before, we can’t protect every business and every household but we came into this crisis with a fundamentally sound economy powered by the hard work and ingenuity of the British people and British businesses.
“While those economic impacts are significant the OBR also expects them to temporary where they bounce back in growth.”
The OBR based the outlook on a scenario where the lockdown lasts three months followed by a partial lifting for three months.
Rishi Sunak warned of ‘serious implications’ to the UK economy amid the coronavirus pandemic
But the independent forecaster said, in this case, there will be a sharp bounceback in the economy, with gross domestic product likely to jump 25 percent in the third quarter and a further 20% in the final three months of 2020.
The analysis comes as new figures showed more than one in five deaths recorded in England and Wales are now linked to coronavirus.
Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows COVID-19 was mentioned on 3,475 death certificates in the week ending April 3, including hospital, care home and community deaths.
This means coronavirus has pushed the death toll in England and Wales to its highest level since official weekly figures began in 2005.
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The Department of Health said 12,107 patients have died in hospital after testing positive for the virus in the UK as of 5pm on Monday, up 778 from the previous day’s total, while confirmed cases reached 93,873.
The ONS figures showed that, in the week to April 3, some 16,387 people died in England and Wales, an increase of 5,246 deaths compared with the previous week and 6,082 more than the five-year average.
But care home providers have warned they are seeing a higher number of cases and deaths than are officially reported, in part due to a time lag with the ONS figures.
MHA, a charitable operator, said there had now been 210 deaths across 131 of its homes, with outbreaks in about half of its homes.