Lockdown measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus outbreak will be extended for at least three more weeks.
Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford announced the decision before Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab officially revealed the extension at the daily Downing Street briefing on Thursday.
Mr Raab, deputising for Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he recovers from the illness, said: "Any change to our social distancing measures now would risk a significant increase in the spread of the virus."
He said relaxing rules could cause a “second peak” which would risk increasing deaths “substantially”.
Ministers agreed the need to prolong social distancing measures following meetings of the Cabinet and the Government’s emergency committee, Cobra, amid signs the epidemic in the UK is beginning to peak.
The news came as the Department of Health said the COVID-19 death toll in hospitals in the UK had reached 13,729 as of 5pm on Wednesday, up 861 on the figure the day before.
There are currently 2,798 personnel - a reduction compared to Wednesday - deployed to assist with 69 open military aid to the civil authorities (MACA) requests, according to the Ministry of Defence.
Meanwhile, 450 military personnel are helping to deliver personal protective equipment (PPE) for NHS England.
The personnel are based at distribution centres throughout the country.
Across the UK, the military has helped to deliver over 923 million PPE products, including 173 million masks, 163 million aprons, 1.3 million gowns and 440 million pairs of gloves.
20,000 military personnel are on standby as part of the 'COVID Support Force'.
Cover image: An empty Piccadilly Circus in central London during the lockdown (Picture: PA).