Matt Hancock – 2021 Statement on Covid-19

The statement made by Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, in the House of Commons on 19 January 2021.

On 5 January 2020, the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (All Tiers) (England) Regulations 2020 (All Tier Regulations) were amended. These amendments instructed people across England to stay at home and only to leave where they have a legally permitted reasonable excuse, as well as requiring the closure of many businesses and venues.

Although we are getting the virus under control, the numbers of covid-19 cases, hospital and ICU admissions, and deaths remain extremely high nationally. As a result, our hospitals are now under more pressure from covid than at any time since the start of the pandemic.

The weekly case rate in England is 520 per 100,000 for all ages and 414 per 100,000 in people aged 60 and over. There are 127 local authorities with case rates greater than 500 per 100,000. Overall positivity for England is 14.4%, with rates remaining high across all regions and continuing to increase in the north-east, west midlands and south-west. The highest positivity is in London (21.7%) and lowest in the south-west (9.5%).

These figures are significantly higher in comparison to early December and there still remains considerable pressure on NHS systems nationwide as hospitalisations continue to increase. General and acute bed occupancy for covid-19 across England has risen by 1,786 to 31,459 from 29,673 last week. Mechanical ventilation bed occupancy for covid-19 across England has similarly risen to 3,570 from 2,310 in the previous week. Deaths within 28 days of a positive test remain high at 887 on 13 January, the last day of complete reporting.

In line with our commitments, I have kept the measures in place for the national lockdown under ongoing review. On 19 January I completed a review of both the geographical allocations and the restrictions as required by the regulations and have determined that the measures remain necessary and proportionate for all areas in England. While there are early indications that new infections may have started to decline in those areas which have been under stricter measures for the longest, scientific advice and the latest epidemiological data is clear that lifting restrictions now would be too early. The restrictions are kept under continual review and will be lifted as soon as it is safe to do so.

On 18 January the Government made some minor technical amendments to the all tier regulations to clarify policy and ensure consistency. The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (All Tiers) (England) (Amendment) 2021 were laid before Parliament on 19 January and will come into force on 20 January.