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Matt Hancock Blames Coronavirus Spread On Public Rather Than Government Policy

by : Emily Brown on : 04 Jan 2021 09:52
Matt Hancock Blames Coronavirus Spread On Public Rather Than Government PolicyMatt Hancock Blames Coronavirus Spread On Public Rather Than Government PolicyPA

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has blamed an increase in UK coronavirus cases on ‘people’s behaviour’ as the government faces pressure for further restrictions. 

The number of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 increased by more than 118,000 in the last week, with a total of 366,435 testing positive between December 27 and January 3.

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Both the number of deaths and people being admitted to hospital with the virus have also increased, prompting calls for school closures and a new national lockdown. However, Hancock has insisted the spread of coronavirus is not down to government policy.

Matt HancockMatt HancockPA Images

During an interview with Sky News, the health secretary was asked whether tier 4 restrictions, imposed on three quarters of the country just before New Year, were working.

Hancock stood by the measures and appeared to shift blame onto the public, saying: ‘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.’

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When challenged on his comments, Hancock said that they were not ‘about blame’ but rather ‘how we collectively as a society keep this under control for the next couple of months until the vaccines make us safe’.

Scientists Say Lockdown Has Had Little Effect On Climate ChangeScientists Say Lockdown Has Had Little Effect On Climate ChangePA Images

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned that restrictions could be about to get tougher, saying he is ‘entirely reconciled to doing what it takes to get the virus down,’ and Hancock assured the government doesn’t ‘rule anything out’ when it comes to the possibility of a new lockdown.

He commented:

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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.

After tier 4 restrictions were extended across the country, teachers and parents expressed concerns about students across most of England returning to school today, January 4.

Dr Mary Bousted, joint head of the National Education Union, stressed that secondary and primary school students are among the highest age groups for COVID infection and therefore schools should remain closed across the country, as is the case in London.

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In a joint statement signed this morning, all unions that represent staff at schools said sending pupils back to school could ‘fuel the pandemic’ and expose education sector workers to ‘serious risk of ill-health’.

Hancock defended the decision to re-open schools by stating that the proportion of teachers who contract coronavirus is ‘no higher’ than the rest of the population.

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: Health, Coronavirus, COVID-19, government, infection, matt hancock, Now, UK

Credits

Sky News
  1. Sky News

    COVID-19: Matt Hancock 'does not rule out' another national lockdown