UK coronavirus LIVE: Matt Hancock gives upbeat briefing as UK vaccinates more people than rest of EU

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ngland’s chief medical officer has warned the third lockdown is a “long way” from being lifted, despite a major step in the fight against coronavirus with the opening of seven mega vaccination centres

The seven mass vaccination centres are set to open in England today, offering jabs to those aged above 80, and health and care staff. Matt Hancock is also due to set out the Government’s new plan for delivering the vaccines.

Live updates

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Recap of Matt Hancock’s press conference

All you need to know from the Government’s coronavirus briefing

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UAE removed from travel corridor from 4am

Transport secretary Grant Shapps added: “Current NATIONAL RESTRICTIONS do not permit international travel other than for specific reasons.

“Ignoring the rules costs lives. Inconsiderate and selfish behaviour puts others at risk & is unfair to those following the rules to beat the virus. Stay at home. Save lives.”

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England’s regional COVID-19 positives reported today

London is still the highest area in the country for positive Covid tests.

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Joe Biden has had his second vaccine dose

President-elect Joe Biden has been given his second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

It comes ahead of his inauguration next week as president Donald Trump faces a single charge — “incitement of insurrection” — over the deadly riot at the US Capitol.

Politicians are set to introduce the legislation on Monday, with voting in midweek.

( AP )
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529 more Covid deaths as Matt Hancock urges UK to stick to the rules

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Yorkshire Post’s Geri Scott asks the final question – is he bringing on more community pharmacies, or is there a supply issue?

Mr Hancock says he is looking in to what more community pharmacists can do, adding he is a “huge fan” of what they can offer.

“When we are coming to as many people as possible to get the vaccine, to people who struggle to travel or who are less certain they want the vaccine and persuade people to take the vaccine. 

“They’re an important role in that stage of the campaign They are important part nersin this – we’re starting the rollout, but there’s much more to come.”

That concludes the Coronavirus briefing.

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Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the new variant of coronavirus makes the situation “so much harder”.

He said: “It makes it harder for everyone because it means that everyone has to restrict the things that they love more than would have been previously necessary under the old variant, and that is tough on us all but thankfully we have got this way out with the vaccine.

“So let’s not blow it now.”

Professor Stephen Powis said it was “critical” that people “pull together” to reduce coronavirus deaths, and ensure that the NHS can treat other conditions.

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Dan Bloom, of The Mirror, asks if support and childcare bubbles will stay in any tightening of lockdown rules.

“I can rule out removing the bubbles we have in place… the childcare, the support bubbles are very important and we’re going to keep them.”

He adds that the public can’t “keep moving bubbles”.

Professor Powis says he hasn’t heard of anyone catching the virus at a vaccination centre.

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The Sun’s Kate Ferguson, asks if she is allowed to meet a friend outdoors with a coffee?

Mr Hancock says “yes you can” go and exercise in the park with but “only one other person, not large groups and 2 metres apart.”

The Health Secretary said: “Yes, you can go and exercise in the park with one other person, but only one other person.

“And we have been seeing large groups and that is not acceptable. And you should be two metres apart from the other person.

“If there are too many people breaking this rule then we are going to have to look at it.

“But, I don’t want to do that because, for many people being able to go for a walk with a friend, that often is their only social contact.

“It is OK to go for a walk with one other person around a park, but you should stay two metres apart from that other person.

“And, likewise, it is OK, if you went for a long walk and ended up seven miles away from home, that is OK.

“But, you should stay local, you should not go from one side of a country to another, potentially taking the virus with you.

“Get out there and take exercise its good for your health but don’t say you are exercising when you are just socialising.”

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Emily Morgan, the health editor from ITV, asks Mr Hancock if now is the time to act and tighten up rules

Mr Hancock repeats that the most important thing is public must follow the rules, and praises the actions of Morrisons, which will now no longer allow people to enter its stores without a mask. “That is the right approach. We keep these things under review.” 

He says most important thing is everyone “follows the rules as they are today”.

 He does not rule out new restrictions. He asks people to behave as if they have the virus. “Don’t flex the rules it can be fatal – that can lead to more infections and more deaths. Its very important that everyone does.”

Prof Powis adds: “Patients who don’t have Covid become affected. When people comply they allow NHS staff to treat stroke victims, heart attacks and traffic accidents.”

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