Boris Johnson has said the UK is “past the peak” of its coronavirus outbreak and is looking towards a lockdown exit strategy, as he led the British government’s coronavirus briefing for the first time since recovering from Covid-19.

“We’re past the peak and we’re on the downward slope,” Johnson said. “We can now see the sunlight and the pasture ahead of us.”

He added that he would set out a “comprehensive plan” next week to outline the government’s plans on restarting its economy, re-opening schools and enabling Britons to travel to work.

But he cautioned against easing restrictions too early, which could cause a second peak and lift the virus’s reproduction rate above 1 — meaning the average person with Covid-19 would infect more than one person on average.

Johnson said that another 674 people had died from coronavirus in the UK in the past 24 hours. But he said more than 81,000 tests were carried out over the past day. This is by far the highest daily number to date — and a vast increase on the country’s testing rates just a few days ago.

The government had set a target of carrying out 100,000 tests by the end of April, although testing figures only include tests where a result has been confirmed, so it is not yet clear whether that has been reached.

The Prime Minister also admitted the UK has faced “logistical problems” in getting personal protective equipment to frontline health workers, and “frustrations” in scaling up testing.

“We are throwing everything at it, heart and soul, night and day” to get it right, Johnson added.