Downing Street briefing : Matt Hancock acknowledged that 2020 had been 'a hard year'

Downing Street briefing : Matt Hancock acknowledged that 2020 had been 'a hard year'



The Health Secretary Matt Hancock acknowledged that 2020 had been "a hard year" and despite all our efforts, the new variant of Covid-19 made further action "difficult but necessary".

Today's Downing Street briefing has now come to an end. Here's what we learned at the press conference:

1.Sussex, Oxfordshire, Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire will move into tier four - meaning they will be under England's toughest restrictions - from 00:01 GMT on Boxing Day

2.The parts of Essex not currently in tier four, along with Waverley in Surrey, and Hampshire - including Portsmouth and Southampton but not the New Forest - will also be escalated to tier four

3.Bristol, Gloucestershire, Somerset (including North Somerset), Swindon, the Isle of Wight, the New Forest and Northamptonshire, as well as Cheshire and Warrington, will move to tier three

4.Cornwall and Herefordshire, which "have seen sharply rising rates", will enter tier two restrictions

5.Covid cases have risen by 57% over the past week and hospital admissions are at 1,909 a day - the highest figure since mid-April

6.Two cases of another new variant of coronavirus have come to light in the UK. Both patients had contacts who travelled from South Africa; they are currently in quarantine. New restrictions will be imposed on travellers from South Africa to the UK - and their contacts

7.Vaccinations have begun for residents in care homes. In addition, care home staff will receive two rapid tests a week alongside their weekly PCR tests

8.The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has submitted its full data package to the MHRA for approval

9.Mr Hancock said everyone will be vaccinated "as fast as we possibly can" 

10.The last question comes from Arj Singh from HuffPost. He asks if, given the highly-transmissible new variant, the government is guilty of overpromising by suggesting the UK can return to normality by Easter.

11.Hancock replies that he is "highly confident we will get things back to normal before 2022" adding that the speed of the vaccine roll-out is accelerating.