Matt Hancock refuses to rule out third national lockdown as Covid cases soar
Health secretary Matt Hancock says he cannot rule out a third nationwide lockdown as coronavirus cases continue to soar.
He told Sky News that Tier 3 areas are seeing sharp rises in cases, a hint that they could be moved up into Tier 4.
And he says he has not ruled out the prospect of another national lockdown - and said whether Tier 4 restrictions work is "down to people's behaviour".
Asked if the government could take further measures to try and curb the spread of COVID-19, Matt Hancock told the channel: "We don't rule anything out."
He said: "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."
Asked if Tier 4 restrictions work in keeping the virus under control, Mr Hancock said: "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."
Yesterday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson made it clear he is considering tougher action, saying in a BBC interview: "It may be that we need to do things in the next few weeks that may be tougher. I'm fully reconciled to that. I think the whole country is fully reconciled to that."
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said the government must impose a national lockdown within 24 hours because the virus is "clearly out of control".
It comes as coronavirus cases across the country continue to grow, with more than 50,000 cases being reported per day over the last few days.
And health bosses and doctors have warned that the NHS faces being swamped as Covid-19 rates across the country continue to rise.