COVID fatalities in the UK continue to fall, as 231 more people have died from the virus.
In addition to the deaths, 17,272 people have tested positive for coronavirus in the past 24 hours.
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Shoppers in Nottingham city centre todayCredit: PA:Press Association
Yesterday, 397 more people died and 15,539 tested positive for the bug.
Last Sunday, there were 215 Covid fatalities – down from the 398 recorded the same time a week earlier.
Today’s statistics come as:
Health Secretary Mr Hancock told the Telegraph he can’t wait to scrap the tier system and allow a return to normal life by the Spring.
Mr Hancock said that the swift approval of Pfizer and Biontech’s coronavirus vaccine earlier this week would bring about a quicker end to measures which have upended life for Brits since last March.
He told the Telegraph: “There’s no doubt that having the vaccine early… will bring forward the moment when we can get rid of these blasted restrictions, but until then we have got to follow them.
“Help is on its way.”
It marks a decisive shift in tone from the Health Secretary, who has previously been seen as one of the cabinet’s most vocal proponents of harsh coronavirus measures.
The first vaccinations are currently being shipped to 50 locations this weekend ahead of the first inoculation on Tuesday – which Mr Hancock has branded “V Day”.
Under government plans, half of all vulnerable Brits could be vaccinated by the end of February.
This could allow MPs to sanction the relaxation of restrictions when they are renewed in the House of Commons before January 27.
The mass rollout of the vaccine will also be accompanied by a huge government advising campaign, set to be launched before Christmas.
It is expected to feature well-known celebrities, and Hancock stressed he was looking for “some absolutely wonderful nonagenarians… to come forward and be vaccinated.”
He did not specify whether this meant the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, who are both in their 90s.