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Lockdown warning: Hancock hints rules will NOT be eased until ALL over-60s vaccinated

3 min read

Matt Hancock discusses coronavirus risk to those in their 60s

Matt Hancock explained Britons who are over 60 make up a large proportion of the number of people in hospital with coronavirus. The Health Secretary said he cannot say when lockdown restrictions will begin to lift during the vaccination roll out as there is still pressure on hospitals. Elaine from Glasgow asked him: “At what point during the UK’s vaccination drive will the Government determine that enough vulnerable people have been vaccinated and allow lockdown restrictions to start being eased and then finally lifted?”

Speaking from Downing Street, Mr Hancock said: “This is an absolutely key question. It’s the central question that so many ask and I’ll explain how we’re going to go about answering that.

“We can’t as of today give an answer in terms of dates.

“You can see in the plan that we’ve published that 88 percent, nearly nine in ten of the deaths that have occurred are among either over the age of 70 or clinically extremely vulnerable or health and social care workers.

“That’s why we’re going to hard to ensure they all have the offer of the vaccine and as many as possible take up that offer by February 15.

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“Then I very much hope we will see the number of deaths of this disease coming down.

“But those who are in their 60s, those who are younger than those top four cohorts, are also a significant proportion of those in hospital and the pressure on hospitals.

“We’ve got to make sure we get them vaccinated as fast as possible too and we will monitor very closely the impact of the vaccination programme of hospitalisations and the pressure on hospitals right across the UK.”

Mr Hancock went on to plead with the public to follow coronavirus rules and reduce all social contact that is not “absolutely” necessary.

Chris Whitty outlines how new coronavirus variant is easily spread

He said that the new variant of coronavirus is “highly contagious and it is putting the NHS under very significant pressure”.

The cabinet minister echoed England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty in saying “we’re at the worst point in this pandemic”.

And he said: “The NHS, more than ever before, needs everybody to be doing something right now – and that something is to follow the rules.

“I know there has been speculation about more restrictions, and we don’t rule out taking further action if it is needed, but it is your actions now that can make a difference.

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“Stay at home, and please reduce all social contact that is not absolutely strictly necessary. That’s what is needed: act like you have the virus.”

There are now 13,000 more Covid-19 patients in hospital than there were on Christmas Day, the National Medical Director for England has said.

Professor Stephen Powis said: “Less than a fortnight into 2021 the number of people in hospital with Covid has already gone up by a third, a rise of around 8,000.”

He said that infection and death rates remain “stubbornly high” with hospitals under “significant and sustained” pressure.

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