Covid: 'Do not wreck this now', Prof Jonathan Van-Tam warns as parts of UK see rise in cases

  • Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Libby Wiener

The deputy chief medical officer for England has warned everyone "do not wreck this now" as some areas in the UK have seen a rise in Covid-19 infections.

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said some areas of the UK are "burning quite hot" in terms of coronavirus infections, particularly in the Midlands and from the East to the West of England as well as parts of Scotland.

Addressing a Downing Street press briefing, he said: "Although it is generally good news, I'm afraid it is better news in some places than in other places and it is not a battle we have won yet". 

"Do not wreck this now, it is too early to relax", Prof Van-Tam warned, before adding that the rules still apply even if you have had the coronavirus vaccine.

He said: "Look, this is going all going very well, but there are some worrying signs that people are relaxing, taking their foot off their brake at the wrong time."

Health Secretary Matt Hancock also echoed a similar warning and urged the public to "stick" by the national restrictions.

"This stark picture shows that this isn't over yet, the stay at home rules are still in place for a reason," he said.

Mr Hancock has also said the government "does not rule out taking local action in an individual area" if there is a surge in Covid-19 cases.

He said: "We propose to come out of the national lockdown altogether, these regional disparities are smaller than we saw in the Autumn.

"We don't rule out taking local action in an individual area if we see a spike... but the goal is for all of us to come out together.

"What I want to stress is that these data shows how important it is that we still stick at it. This isn't over yet," he added.

Prof Van-Tam also shared a football analogy, saying: "It's a bit like being 3-0 up in game and thinking 'well, we can't possibly lose this now', but how many times have you seen the other side take it 4-3?".

The health secretary confirmed the rate of the fall in infections has declined but added that Covid-19 cases are down to one in 145 people.

Mr Hancock also said there has been a fall of 40% in the number of people in hospital over the past two weeks. However, he said there are still 15,485 hospitalised with Covid-19, which is "far too high".

His comments come as it has been revealed people aged 40-49 will be next in line for a Covid-19 vaccine once all the over-50s and most vulnerable have been immunised.

Scientific advisers rejected prioritising frontline workers over age. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) considered whether groups such as teachers and police officers should be vaccinated next, but said prioritising people by age would "provide the greatest benefit in the shortest time".