Coronavirus: This is when Health Secretary will address nation – as Derbyshire cases rise

Health Secretary Sajid Javid will hold a Covid-19 news briefing from Downing Street at 5pm today – as Derbyshire’s public health chief says ‘it is likely we will need to do a bit more’ to tackle the spread of coronavirus.

Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 3:55 pm
Updated Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 4:19 pm

Mr Javid is expected to urge the elderly and vulnerable to accept a third vaccine dose as part of the Government’s booster jab campaign.

It comes on the day the NHS Confederation said a back-up strategy, or Plan B, which includes mandatory face coverings in crowded and enclosed spaces, should be implemented.

The Business Secretary ruled out another lockdown this winter – but did not reject the idea that Plan B could be used.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Health Secretary Sajid Javid.

UK Covid-19 cases have been rising sharply recently – but deaths are well below last winter’s peak.

Dean Wallace, Derbyshire’s director of public health, said: “Infection rates are rising nationally and Derbyshire is no different.

“Mainly this is driven by infections in younger age groups and we have seen high numbers of cases linked to educational and early years settings.

“We are supporting schools in line with the national guidelines and would urge anyone eligible to get the vaccine or boosters when offered and that anyone with coronavirus symptoms self-isolates.”

He added: “With coronavirus cases increasing and winter around the corner it is likely we will need to do a bit more to lower the infection rate, keep our loved ones well and prevent restrictions being needed.

“There are things we can all do to lower our own risk of infection and the risk to others – washing hands regularly, wearing a face covering on public transport and in enclosed public spaces and ensuring good ventilation in indoor spaces where people mix.

“These simple measures will all help reduce the risk from Covid-19 as well as from other viruses like flu.”

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said the NHS is ‘preparing for what could be the most challenging winter on record’.

“As cases of coronavirus continue to climb, alongside other demands on the health service and pressure on staff capacity in both the NHS and social care, leaders are worried about what could be around the corner,” he said.

“It is time for the Government to enact Plan B of its strategy without delay because without preemptive action, we risk stumbling into a winter crisis.

“Also, health leaders need to understand what a ‘Plan C’ would entail if these measures are insufficient.”

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said ministers are ‘looking at the situation in real time’ as he acknowledged ‘infection rates are rising’ – but hospitalisations and deaths are ‘much, much lower than they were at the beginning of this year and we're learning to live with the virus’.

Asked about the prospect of another lockdown, Mr Kwarteng said: “I rule it out.”

Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer for England, wrote on Twitter that ‘now is the time’ for unvaccinated people to get jabbed and ‘if you are offered a booster please take up the offer’.

He added that ‘ventilation, masks in crowded indoor spaces and hand washing remain important’.