Matt Hancock says there’s still “a long, long way” to go until lockdown restrictions can be lifted

He also admitted the government isn't sure whether schools in England will reopen fully by Easter

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said there’s still “a long, long way” to go until coronavirus lockdown restrictions can be lifted.

He told Sky News that while early evidence shows the latest restrictions are starting to bring the number of new infections down the NHS remains under enormous pressure.

Pressed on when restrictions will be eased following the introduction of a third national lockdown earlier this month, he said the current rules are helping “bring cases down” but that the country is a “long, long, long way from them being low enough”.

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Speaking to Stephen Dixon on Sophy Ridge On Sunday, Hancock said: “We should be worried enough, all of us, about this pandemic to follow the rules and it is just so important that people do.

“This morning I’ve come out of my formal self-isolation, I haven’t actually left the house yet because I haven’t needed to.”

He also admitted that he was worried about new coronavirus variants not yet discovered and said the government isn’t sure whether schools in England will reopen fully by Easter.

Earlier this month, Hancock announced plans to vaccinate “tens of millions of people” against the coronavirus by spring.

Speaking during a Downing Street press conference, Hancock detailed plans to ramp up the vaccination programme, revealing that by the end of January, everyone in England will be within 10 miles of a vaccination site, thanks to seven new national centres.

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Delivering the latest vaccine news during his Sky News interview, Hancock said 75% of all people aged 80 and over have now had their first coronavirus vaccine jab.

He added that the UK has given out more vaccines in the last three days than France has in total since the global race for inoculation against coronavirus began.

Meanwhile, Kenneth Branagh will play Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Michael Winterbottom’s new coronavirus TV series, it has been confirmed.

The show, which is called This Sceptred Isle, will chart the UK’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and will be told across five episodes.

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