Matt Hancock warns life won't return to normal until next summer at the earliest

Victoria Bell
·3 min read
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - SEPTEMBER 20, 2020: Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock speaks to media outside the BBC Broadcasting House in central London before appearing on The Andrew Marr Show on 20 September, 2020 in London, England.- PHOTOGRAPH BY Wiktor Szymanowicz / Barcroft Studios / Future Publishing (Photo credit should read Wiktor Szymanowicz/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Matt Hancock says that things won't get back to normal until next summer at the earliest. (Getty)

Matt Hancock has warned that life may not return to normal until next summer at the earliest as coronavirus cases continue to rise dramatically across the UK.

Earlier on Monday, the government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, speaking alongside England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty, warned there would be 49,000 new cases a day by mid-October if the current rate of infection continues.

Boris Johnson is expected to announce further lockdown restrictions on Tuesday, following last week’s introduction in England of the “rule of six”, which outlaws any social gatherings of more than six people.

Health secretary Hancock warned over the weekend that the UK is at a “tipping point” and wouldn’t rule out a second national lockdown.

Asked on ITV’s This Morning on Monday when life would return to normal, Hancock said: “Some things have changed for good.

“We all Zoom far more... and I think people are going to take infectious diseases more seriously forever. And that’s no bad thing.

“But in terms of the things that affect everyday life, I really hope – if this vaccine comes off in the early bit of next year – we are looking at by next summer.”

Hancock also said “everybody doing their bit” now would make it easier “to have have as normal a Christmas as possible”.

Read more: 5 biggest warning signs coronavirus could get much worse this winter

On the possibility of a vaccine, he said: “For the mass rollout we’re talking about the first bit of next year, if all goes well.

“Hopefully in the first few months – there’s still a chance of it coming on stream before Christmas, but we’ve then got to roll it out and the first people who will get it are the people who are most vulnerable – people in care homes, older people.

“There’s a series of different vaccines, but we are talking about – essentially, for it to have an impact on how we live our lives – we’re talking about the start of next year.”

His comments came as Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance spoke to the nation in a televised address to warn about the consequences of failing to gain control of the pandemic.

Screen grab of the government's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance (left) and chief medical officer Chris Whitty (right) speaking at a Downing Street briefing to explain how the coronavirus is spreading in the UK and the potential scenarios that could unfold as winter approaches.
Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance delivered an appeal to the public on Monday in a televised address to warn about the consequences of failing to gain control of the pandemic. (PA)

Read more: 50,000 new daily cases by mid-October at current rate

Sir Patrick said the number of new COVID-19 cases was doubling roughly every seven days, and that if the current trend continues, this would then turn into “200-plus deaths” by the middle of November.

He said: “The challenge therefore is to make sure the doubling time does not stay at seven days.

"There are already things in place which are expected to slow that, and to make sure that we do not enter this exponential growth and end up with the problems that you would predict as a result of that.

"That requires speed, it requires action and it requires and it requires enough in order to be able to bring that down."

Prof Whitty said we must “break unnecessary links between households”, meaning cutting contacts at work and socially.

He also outlined the importance of people sticking to the “hands, face, space” advice and self-isolating if they have symptoms.

The number of confirmed cases in the UK has risen dramatically in recent weeks, with another 3,899 announced on Sunday.

On Sunday, there was a backlash following reports the government would lift the rule of six for 24 hours on Christmas Day to allow families to see each other.

Hancock has said he would report a neighbour to police if they broke COVID-19 self-isolation rules.

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