You cannot but feel sorry for our prime minister. A man of great ambition, but less talent, he and his government have come under great scrutiny over the handling of the pandemic crisis.

Johnson has been accused of absenting himself from the rigours of government when the nation needed him the most. He has portrayed himself as a great communicator, but when put to the test, bluff has triumphed over substance. Optimism has its place but there is no substitute for clarity and reality.

Johnson has further hampered himself by adopting a Presidential style of government and unfortunately his cabinet is by and large mediocre. Whilst this may be a good policy in terms of internal Conservative machinations to keep himself in power, it does not serve the country well.

We have seen this during his absence due to illness. If he had not recovered, and I did say a prayer for him, we would have been in further trouble.

There are three immediate issues that the government needs to sort out.

We need sufficient ventilators for our hospitals, sufficient protective equipment, and sufficient testing. There can be no exit strategy until we have enough of these as otherwise our NHS and social care systems will be overwhelmed.

There will be further pressure on supplies as I suspect that we will all have to wear masks not to protect ourselves but to prevent us infecting others. The government also needs to be clear about requirements which need to be firmly based on consumption rates. The NHS requires over 150,000 gowns per day. To go on boasting about a plane carrying 80,000 is just not good enough. It is less than half a day's worth of consumption.

We should all welcome Johnson's belief that we need to continue lockdown. Until we build up sufficient protective equipment stocks and we have proper testing and tracing, lifting lockdown will lead to a second wave which will overwhelm the NHS and cause many additional unnecessary deaths.

Until the time is right, we need to continue lockdown and thank all those key workers from binmen and volunteers to surgeons and retail workers who keep our communities and society going.

Luigi Gregori, Andover Town councillor for Harroway