MATT Hancock will lead another Downing Street press conference this afternoon to update Brits on our battle against the coronavirus.
His announcement comes hours after the PM, Boris Johnson, confirmed “we are embarking on a journey, a one-way road map to freedom”.
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The Health Secretary’s update to the nation includes the latest Covid statsCredit: AFP or licensors
What time is Matt Hancock’s announcement?
Mr Hancock’s announcement will be given from 5pm.
What is Matt Hancock expected to announce?
The politician will update viewers on the current coronavirus death toll, the number of those infected, and our latest Covid jab statistics.
Mr Hancock is also expected to talk about the Brazilian “variant of concern” that has been discovered in the UK.
A surge testing programme is today underway in postcodes across England to try and trace the rogue bug.
The Health Secretary will urge anyone in affected areas to come forward for fresh testing to help contain its spread.
There is also a massive search for a mystery person infected with the Brazilian variant.
Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “There is one case who the individual didn’t fill in their test card details so we can contact them. They probably got a home kit or a test kit from their local authority.
“What we’re asking today is if anyone had a test on February 12 or 13 to contact NHS 119 so we make sure we identify that individual.”
It is feared the mutant strain could disrupt plans to lift all lockdown measures in the UK by June 21 – an expert has suggested.
Danny Altmann, professor of immunology at Imperial College said the public should be “somewhat worried but not [be in a state of] total panic.”
Mass testing is underway to track down those infected with the Brazilian variant
But he suggested the Brazilian variant could have a real impact on the UK’s jab rollout, saying, “the way I think about it is it’s a bit like… the effect that the Kent variant had… it just slowed everything up.”
If the rogue bug does slow the UK jab rollout, Boris Johnson’s lockdown roadmap will almost certainly be impacted as one of the key conditions for June 21 lifting of measures is vaccines continuing at their current pace.
Mr Johnson confirmed that that a “massive effort” was underway to battle the variant.
But, there is “no reason not to think that our vaccines are effective against these variants of concern at the present time” and Public Health England “don’t think that there is a threat to the wider public”, the PM added.
He also told reporters today: “What we are doing is embarking now on a journey, a one-way road map to freedom and it is designedly cautious in order to be irreversible.”
A surge testing programme in several postcodes of Bristol and South Gloucestershire is underway to try and trace a Brazilian variantCredit: Andrew Lloyd