THE duration of the UK's coronavirus lockdown depends on how well people follow social-distancing rules, cabinet member Grant Shapps said today (Friday).

Ahead of a likely sunny weekend, transport secretary Mr Shapps said it was "by no means established" that the worst of the Covid-19 outbreak had passed.

On a possible end to the government's lockdown rules – now in their fifth week – Mr Shapps said: "In many ways it lies in our own hands. I know we've made a lot of great gains... but it's absolutely essential we do not let that slip this weekend."

He added: "The more everyone adheres to [the rules], the faster it will go."

Speaking at this evening's daily press briefing in Downing Street, Mr Shapps said another 684 people had died in the UK's hospitals since yesterday.

Their deaths brings the total death toll in the UK's hospitals to 19,059.

The number of people in hospital with Covid-19 today is 17,049 – down 10 per cent on the same time last week.

Another 5,386 people have tested positive for Covid-19 since yesterday, bringing the number of confirmed cases in the UK to 143,464.

"We express condolences to the families and friends [of those who have died]," Mr Shapps said. "Each of these statistics represents a personal tragedy."

The minister praised the UK's transport workers for keeping services running, and announced a new package of support "to safeguard the flow of essential goods" into and across the UK.

Among this support is a new trilateral agreement between the UK, France, and Ireland, to keep freight moving between those countries during the crisis.

On the UK government's new online system for testing, Mr Shapps said Wales and the other devolved governments "want to join" the scheme.

Dr Jenny Harries, the deputy chief medical officer for England, said the number of cases in the UK could rise as more testing becomes available.