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End Of Lockdown 'Long, Long, Long Way' Off, Says Matt Hancock

Rachel Wearmouth
·2-min read
Health Secretary Matt Hancock 
Health Secretary Matt Hancock

Health secretary Matt Hancock has said the end of the coronavirus lockdown is still a “long, long, long way” off.

But amid fears schools may not reopen before easter, the minister said on Sunday teachers have a “good shout” of getting the vaccination first after all of the clinically vulnerable got the jab.

So far, three quarters of all those over 80 have now been vaccinated, but Hancock said case numbers were “incredibly high” and the NHS remained under intense pressure.

“There is early evidence that the lockdown is starting to bring cases down but we are a long, long, long way from being low enough because the case rate was incredibly high,” he told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday.

“You can see the pressure on the NHS – you can see it every day.”

Hancock said that while he hoped schools in England could reopen by Easter, it would depend on the levels of infection in the community at that time.

“We have got to look at the data, we have got to look at the impact of the vaccination programme,” he said.

He said schools would be given two weeks’ notice, adding teachers could be given jabs earlier.

“Of course we want to break the chains of transmission but we’ve also got to stop people dying from the disease if they catch it,” he said.

“We’re going through those who are clinically vulnerable… and after that there’s a perfectly reasonable debate to be had about who should go in what order next.

“Teachers have got a good shout to be very high on the list and those discussions are going on.”

'Act Like You've Got It', the Coronavirus warning poster seen on the almost empty Bishopsgate street during the third national lockdown. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that there was evidence that the new variant of the coronavirus is more deadly. (Photo by Thomas Krych / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
'Act Like You've Got It', the Coronavirus warning poster seen on the almost empty Bishopsgate street during the third national lockdown. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that there was evidence that the new variant of the coronavirus is more deadly. (Photo by Thomas Krych / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)

Ministers are expected to meet this week to discuss a proposal to require people arriving in the UK to pay to quarantine in a designated hotel to ensure they are following the rules on self-isolating.

Hancock said that so far there were 77 known cases of the South African variant in the UK and nine of the Brazilian. He said that all the cases of the South African variant were linked to travel.

“There is not what we call community...

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