The wearing of face masks by healthy people is not recommended by the Government, the deputy chief medical officer has said.

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said that, while the practice seemed "wired into" some southeast Asian cultures, there was no evidence it helped stop the spread of Covid-19.

"There is no evidence that general wearing of face masks by the public who are well affects the spread of the disease in our society," he told the daily Downing Street press conference.

"What matters is social distancing."

He added: "In terms of the hard evidence and what the UK Government recommends, we do not recommend face masks for general wearing by the public."

He also said there was no plan to add loss of taste and smell to the list of symptoms people should watch out for if they have Covid-19.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock, speaking at the daily press briefing, said coronavirus "continues its grim march", adding he "really feels" for those families whose loved ones have died without them by their side.

He reiterated the "instruction" for people to continue to stay at home this weekend, even if the weather proves good.

He said: "We are set for a warm weekend in some parts of the country.

"But the disease is still spreading and we absolutely cannot afford to relax the social distancing measures we have in place.

"We cannot relax our discipline now. If we do, people will die.

"I end with the advice we all know. This advice is not a request - it is an instruction.

"Stay at home, protect lives and then you will be doing your part."

Asked later if people could go for a picnic for an hour, he said it was "incredibly important people follow the guidelines", which include people only taking necessary exercise.

He stressed that it was not known when the peak of the virus would come in the UK, although he said earlier he thought it could be in the next few weeks.

He said much work was going on with clinical trials for treatments and said the Government had provisionally ordered 17.5m antibody tests, which can tell people whether they have had the virus and can get back to their normal lives.