The second peak of the coronavirus is flattening, but the public must maintain our resolve for the rest of the blockade to prevent its threat, according to the Secretary of Health.
Matt Hancock said it was too early to say what contact people will be able to have over Christmas and what additional restrictions may be required after the blocking is eased.
Speaking to Mr Hancock at a press conference in Downing Street, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, deputy chief medical officer for England, also called for caution and suggested that any gain from the second national blockade could be lost quickly as it only takes a few seconds ‘the virus spread. .
But referring to the light beam that can be provided by a vaccine, Mr Hancock confirmed that he has formally asked the UK regulator to evaluate the Pfizer / BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for use here.
He said the vaccine review by the Regulatory Agency for Drugs and Health Products (MHRA) is another important step forward in tackling this pandemic.
This comes as first NHS documents from the Journal of Health Service Journal (HSJ) suggest that all adults in England of any age can start being vaccinated against Covid-19 before the end of January if supplies allow.
Mr Hancock told the conference he did not want to prejudge or undermine the MHRA’s independence when asked how long his process could take and that the speed of a vaccine would depend on the speed of production.
Hitting an optimistic tone at Friday’s conference, Mr Hancock said the latest infection figures are promising, that they show the second peak is flattening and added that he has grown increasingly confident that life will be longer close to normal until spring.
Prof. Van-Tam and NHS England National Medical Director Professor Stephen Powis both joined Mr Hancock at a distance for the conference, as they are self-isolating.
Prof Van-Tam said he was isolating due to a house contact while Prof Powis confirmed earlier this week that he was doing so after a member of his family tested positive for coronavirus.
Prof Van-Tam said: It only takes a few seconds to create new infections through an unnecessary close contact.
He said those contacts turn into infections five to seven days later and then hospitalizations a week later, adding: You can lose this in just a few seconds.
He urged people to keep up the pressure on this virus and push it as hard as we can until the end of the period (blockage).
The government said another 511 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Friday, bringing the total of the UK to 54,286, while another 20,252 laboratory-confirmed coronavirus cases were reported.
Warning that infection levels will rise again if the public ignores any guidelines set around Christmas, Prof. Van-Tam said there is a dual responsibility for people to follow the rules.
There is no magic number for how many days it will cost us, said Prof Van-Tam at the press conference No 10.
Earlier this week Public Health England said the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (Sage) had suggested that five days of stronger measures might be needed for each day with greater freedom.
Mr Hancock said it was still too early to tell what would happen after Dec. 2 when the Englands blockade would end.
He said: During Christmas I know how important it is that we have an established system, a set of rules that both keep people safe but also allow people to see their loved ones.
He added: I just think it would be such an incentive for the whole of the UK if the four nations could come together and agree on a set of arrangements which are safe, prudent and reasonable, but also allow families see each other at Christmas.
Wales Prime Minister Mark Drakeford has said he generally hopes an agreement can be reached between the four UK countries on Christmas plans.
Mr Drakeford said there are no fixed points, there is no dispute so far in the discussions, most of which will take place next week.
Issues discussed include travel between nations, how long any easing of restrictions may last, and the extent to which families may be allowed to mingle.
Northern Ireland will enter a two-week break next Friday and Scotland has placed two million people at its toughest level of restrictions for three weeks.
Earlier Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick told LBC radio that police would disrupt parties at home but had no interest in interrupting family Christmas dinners.
On Friday, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said there were substantial changes in Covid-19 infection rates across England.
Data from 8 to 14 November suggest that the overall national infection rate for England is similar to a week ago, but there are large regional divisions with rising rates in children of primary school age.
The ONS said infection levels have continued to rise in London, the east of England and the south-east, but appear to be declining in the north west and East Midlands.
Sage said the reproduction number or R value for the whole of the UK had dropped between 1 and 1.1.
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