[Reporter: Margaret Evans] Birdsong, able for once to pierce the noisy din it normally competes with in the British capital.
It's not strong enough, though to calm the internal dialogue of a nation whose fight against COVID-19 has been an erratic one.
[Boris Johnson] We should be going about our business as usual.
[News Anchor] There's been confirmation of the first death from coronavirus here in the U.
The risk level has been raised from low to moderate.
[Evans] At the end of February and in early March the government's message was very much business as usual.
Until it wasn't.
[News Anchor] The Queen left Buckingham Palace thismorning a week early.
[News Anchor] Getting the masks, getting the protective equipment to the frontline is mission critical.
[Boris Johnson] I must level with the British public more families, many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time.
[Evans] Today, the country looks like it may well suffer the highest number of coronavirus deaths in Europe.
I think the decision was made quite early in March to give up on containment and to assume this virus was unstoppable and everyone would get it.
[Evans] Global public health expert Devi Sridhar from the University of Edinburgh says the British government squandered time.
First, by toying with the idea of herd immunity.
Giving in to a kind of fatalism.
There's a tidal wave coming and either you can ignore it and it comes and it washes you all away or you can quickly build up a wall through testing, tracing.
[Evans] In early March, after Italy had begun locking down huge tracts of the country the British government abandoned the goal of wide scale testing and the prime minister, Boris Johnson was boasting.
I think there were actually a few coronavirus patients and I shook hands with everybody you'll be pleased to know and I continue to shake hands.
[Evans] When the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic on March 12th Johnson warned the United Kingdom to prepare for many lost lives but he didn't order a lockdown until March 23rd.
In the interim, big events like the annual race at Cheltenham went ahead.
But we know with viruses they exploit delays.
[Evans] In the midst of all this though there has been a love story between the British people and their National Health Service.
Long-neglected in terms of funding but still standing.
Amun Sandhu is a Canadian who came to study medicine here.
Now an acute care doctor at an NHS hospital she finds herself in the eye of the COVID-19 storm working an emergency rota of three days on and three days off.
[Evans] Even the daily shop points to a profoundly altered world where worries over her patient safety must now extend to her families and her own.
The anxiety has been there the whole way through and the fear has been there the whole way through.
[Evans] Despite assurances back in February andMarch Britain has consistently struggled to meet the demands for protective gear and to explain why especially when a government pandemic simulation exercise four years ago highlighted big gaps.
More than 100 health care workers have died from the virus here in the U.
Sandhu doesn't want to talk politics but she admits anger can come with anxiety.
I think a lot of us felt that way and wefelt that our safety was being compromised.
I think we have started to see more PPE coming through which is very positive but I mean this would have been kind of helpful, like I said, three four weeks ago.
[Evans] The pandemic, of course, has prompted not just a health crisis but an economic one.
Many people watching their dreams disappear.
It's one reason, says physician and Conservative MP Luke Evans that the government insists it's timing has been right.
If we acted too early then you have the problem of crashing the economy.
What you're trying to do is prevent the NHS from being overrun save as many lives as you possibly can while not crashing your economy.
So to try and make a judgment call on this in the middle of a pandemic makes things really really difficult.
There is a reluctance here by many to judge the outcome of a fight not yet over but Britain has already by far surpassed what officials called their best case scenario of 20, 000 COVID-19 deaths.
And critics say accountability and transparency are key to maintaining public trust.
Boris Johnson is reported to have missed five meetings on the coronavirus threat by Britain's special security committee early in the year and eight calls or meetings with European Union leaders about it.
Alastair Campbell was an adviser to the former British Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair.
If you look at when this thing was starting and it was beginning to get closer and closer and closer I think there was a real complacency.
[Evans] The prime minister has emerged from his own private battle with COVID-19 to say it's still too soon to lift the lockdown but not to talk about it.
Efforts to dramatically increase wide-scale testing and tracing earlier dismissed are now underway.
But Devi Sridhar says it's not robust enough yet.
That Britain is still playing catch-up after seven weeks of lockdown.
It feels like Groundhog Day in my mind where I'm like it keeps repeating the delays when actually no one seems to understand that time is the currency [Evans] Aand so not to be wasted.
Margaret Evans, CBC News, London.