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UK has hit peak of coronavirus outbreak, Matt Hancock claims

Matt Hancock said he believed the UK had hit the peak of the outbreak

3 min read

Matt Hancock has claimed the UK has already reached the peak of coronavirus infections.

But the Health Secretary insisted lockdown restrictions would remain in place to avoid a second spike in the figures.

Speaking in the Common he said the Goverment had "high confidence" the number of Covid-19 cases had reached its peak in the UK as he thanked the public for their "steadfast commitment" to the social distancing measures in place.

However in his update to MPs, Mr Hancock said ministers would not consider lifting them until his "five tests", including delivering 100,000 daily tests, had been met.

It came after the Department of Health's latest figures showed 18,100 people had died from the illness in UK hopsitals, with 759 deaths registered in the course of the last 24 hours.

"We have high confidence that we are at a peak in this disease, but obviously we need to see that come down," Mr Hancock said.

"I just want to thank everyone from across the country for their steadfast commitment in following the rules.

"It is making a difference. We are at the peak. But before we relax any social distancing rules or make changes to them we have set out the five tests that have to be met."

Setting out the steps that would have to be met before lockdown measures could be eased, he added: "First, that the NHS can continue to cope, second, that the operational challenges can be met.

"Third, that the daily death rate falls sustainably and consistently, fourth, that the rate of infection is decreasing, and most importantly, that there is no risk of a second peak."

But Mr Hancock urged those with non-coronavirus related illnesses to come forward as he revealed the NHS currently had 10,000 spare beds, with a further 3,000 available in critical care wards.

"We want to open the NHS to non-coronavirus symptoms and to patients with non-coronavirus conditions safely and carefully as soon as it is safe to do so," he said.

"If you think that you might have a lump that might be a cancer, then you should come forward now and you will be safely and properly treated in the NHS."

Meanwhile the Cabinet minister dismissed suggestions the UK could follow the lead of other European countries by handing out face masks to the public, saying the government would be led by scientific advice.

"I can't promise that we will give everybody free masks, I mean that would be an extraordinary undertaking," he said.

"And we do have to make sure that we have supplies available especially for health and social care staff where scientific advice throughout has been that the wearing of maks is necessary in those circumstances and we've got to make sure the provision is there for them."

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