By Estelle Shirbon

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s finance minister has told colleagues the economy could shrink by up to 30% this quarter because of the coronavirus lockdown, a newspaper reported, as the soaring death toll gave little hope restrictions would soon be lifted.

The number of COVID-19 deaths in hospitals across the United Kingdom has passed 10,000 and a senior scientific adviser to the government has said the country risked becoming the worst-hit in Europe.

The government has had to defend its response to the outbreak, with complaints of insufficient testing, a dearth of protective kit for medics and questions about whether Prime Minister Boris Johnson was too slow to impose a lockdown.

Johnson was starting his convalescence from the disease at his country residence