“But there is an ongoing risk.
“And I think we need to be mindful this may go on for several months.
“We need to keep a very cautious behaviour as we go through the winter period.”
It comes as the World Health Organisation’s Special Envoy has warned the UK Government that strict rules on social distancing to combat the coronavirus cannot last forever.
READ MORE: Matt Hancock shames Labour MPs in Commons row over COVID testing
Dr David Nabarro told talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer that the people need to voluntarily take the virus seriously rather than being instructed to by the Government. He added that the COVID-19 coronavirus will be in circulation for the foreseeable future.
Dr Nabarro said: “As I have told you before on this programme, people will work out how to live with the virus and they will make the changes to their lives.
“Having a Government set rules and decide what you can and cannot do can’t last forever.
“People will get fed up and it is having people saying they will take the virus seriously voluntarily that seems to be important.”
Mr Hancock added: “These are not measures that we take lightly. I understand that for many they’ll mean changing long-awaited plans or missing out on precious moments with loved ones, but this sacrifice is vital to control the virus for the long term and save lives.
“And I vow that we will not keep these rules in place for any longer than we have to.”
Matt Hancock also pleaded with university students to “follow the rules”.
He told MPs: “Our goal as much as possible is to protect keeping schools and businesses open whilst controlling the virus.
“The data show that whilst the cases amongst 17-30-year-olds are rising, the number of cases amongst the under-16s remain very low, and we all know how important it is to keep schools open.”