Matt Hancock told Sky News ministers are not ruling out any measures (Picture: Sky News)
Matt Hancock has refused to rule out a national lockdown in response to surging coronavirus cases and hospital admissions.
Ministers are under pressure to impose tougher restrictions across the country after the Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called for national measures yesterday.
The Health Secretary said the situation with the growth of the virus is ‘very difficult’ and when asked the prospect of a third lockdown, he told Sky News: ‘We don’t rule anything out, and we’ve shown repeatedly that we will look at the public health advice and we will take the public health advice in terms of what is needed to control the spread of the disease.
‘This new variant is much easier to catch, it is much more transmissible, and we’re now seeing the effect of that in lots of different parts of the country, unfortunately.
‘And it means that whereas the old Tier 3 was able to contain the old variant, that is proving increasingly difficult in all parts of the country.’
Asked whether Tier 4 restrictions work, Mr Hancock said: ‘It is down to people’s behaviour, frankly. What matters is, yes of course, the rules that we put in place, but it is also about how people act.
‘And frankly what I would say is this: it is critical that everybody in the country does all that they can to reduce the spread of the virus.’
Mr Hancock also defended the decision for schools to reopen in some areas today despite the soaring infection rate.
He insisted the government was following public health advice and that schools in those areas were safe.
‘It’s also clear that the proportion of teachers who catch coronavirus is no higher than the rest of the population,’ he added.
This is a breaking news story, more to follow.