Across the UK lockdown restrictions are in place, with Britons asked to remain home, only travel for essential reasons and schools closed to all but children of key workers. Three weeks into lockdown and with cases of coronavirus seeming as high as ever, some have been wondering whether lockdown is working.
On Wednesday the UK recorded the highest death toll since the pandemic began, with 1,820 deaths.
Now Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said the country is “in the midst of one of the toughest periods of this pandemic”.
Responding to an urgent question in the Commons today he said: “Yesterday saw 1,820 deaths, which is the highest toll since the crisis began.
“As we endure these dark days and the restrictions we must all follow to save lives, we know that we have a way out, which is our vaccination programme and thanks to the hard work of so many people we now have an immense infrastructure in place that day by day is protecting the most vulnerable and giving hope to us all.
“I’m glad to report to the House we now have given over five million doses of vaccine across the UK to 4.6 million people, making good progress towards our goal of offering everyone priority groups 1 to 4 their first dose by February 15.”
Read More: Boris hints lockdown to last until summer as it’s ‘too early to tell’
When will lockdown end?
As yet there is no set date for the end of lockdown measures in England.
Downing Street would not rule out the possibility of the lockdown continuing into the summer after Boris Johnson said it was “too early to say” when measures would be eased.
Ministers hope it will be the last national lockdown required during the pandemic.
Asked directly whether he could rule out the lockdown lasting into the summer, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We will continue to keep all of the scientific evidence and data under review.
“It remains our position that we want to ease restrictions as soon as it is safe to do so, but in order for us to do that we need to see the transmission rates of the virus come down and we need to see the pressure on the NHS reduce.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel will give a press conference from Downing Street at 5pm today to update the UK on the fight against coronavirus.
When questioned whether the lockdown may not be eased until the summer, Mr Johnson said today: “I think it’s too early to say when we’ll be able to lift some of the restrictions.
“We’ll look then (February 15) at how we’re doing but I think what we’re seeing in the ONS (Office for National Statistics) data, in the React survey, we’re seeing the contagiousness of the new variant that we saw arrive just before Christmas – there’s no doubt it does spread very fast indeed.
“It’s not more deadly but it is much more contagious and the numbers are very great.”