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Still ‘a long, long way’ until lockdown restrictions can be lifted – Hancock

Written by on 24/01/2021

It is still a “long, long, long way” before coronavirus cases are low enough for lockdown to be lifted, the health secretary has told Sky News.

Matt Hancock said “early evidence” shows tough restrictions around the UK are starting to bring the number of new infections down, but he warned the NHS remains under “enormous” pressure.

He also revealed “I really worry” about new COVID-19 variants not yet discovered and admitted the government is not sure whether schools in England will reopen fully by Easter.

Speaking to Sophy Ridge On Sunday, Mr Hancock said: “We should be worried enough, all of us, about this pandemic to follow the rules and it is just so important that people do.

“This morning I’ve come out of my formal self-isolation, I haven’t actually left the house yet because I haven’t needed to.”

Delivering the latest vaccine news, Mr Hancock said 75% of all people aged 80 and over have now had their first coronavirus jab.

And he said the UK has given out more vaccines in the last three days than France has in total since the global race for inoculation against coronavirus began.

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Mr Hancock dismissed press reports earlier this week that said £500 payments will be given to anyone who catches the disease to encourage them to properly self-isolate, saying “that isn’t government policy”.

But he refused to say whether Britain’s borders should be closed to protect people from new variants, given the ones discovered that originated in South Africa and Brazil.

He said those two “might have a lower response to the vaccine”, though cautioned “we don’t know the degree of that”.

“The new variant I really worry about is the one that is out there that hasn’t been spotted,” Mr Hancock added.

 Sky News

© Sky News 2020

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