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Health Secretary Matt Hancock insisted a national lockdown remains the “last line of defence” to protect Britons from widespread coronavirus infections. Mr Hancock said local action taken wherever necessary could help the Government and public health officials ensure a total shut down is avoided. He however conceded the lack of collaboration could ultimately force the UK to extend social distancing restrictions to everyone across the country.
The Conservative frontbencher however was unable to confirm how close the country effectively is to a potential total lockdown despite warning the number of people in hospitals struck by COVID-19 have been “doubling” every eight days for the past few weeks.
Mr Hancock said: “We’ll do what is necessary to keep people safe. The first line of defence is that everyone should follow the social distancing we’ve talked about many times. Hands, faces, space and keep that social distancing.
“The contact tracing system, that is working very well, and is the second line of the defence.
“After that, these local lockdowns and the last line of defence is for national action. I don’t want to see that but we will do whatever is necessary to keep people safe in a very different pandemic.”
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The Health Secretary continued: “It isn’t something that we ever take off the table but it isn’t something that we want to see either.
“It’s the last line of defence. What I’d say this morning is that the country, once again, needs to come together and recognise that there is a serious challenge, that the virus is accelerating.
“Unfortunately, it isn’t just cases increasing, it’s also the number of people ending up in hospital increasing.
“That’s mainly across the northwest of England but we’ve seen a rise across the northeast and we’re prepared to do what it takes to keep people safe whilst also protecting livelihoods.”
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