I will start with an update on the key statistics.
1,201 new cases were reported yesterday, that is 5.6% of all tests carried out
So the total number of cases now stands at 176,533.
There are currently 1,983 people in hospital, which is a decrease of 33 from yesterday.
And there are 142 people in intensive care, which is also decrease of three from yesterday.
However I regret to report that, in the last 24 hours, a further 82 deaths were registered of patients who had first tested positive in the previous 28 days.
The total number of people who have died under that daily measurement is now 5,970.
Yet again, I want to send my condolences to all those who have lost a loved one during this pandemic.
Due to a hold up in the processing of data from yesterday, I don't yet have the figure for the total number of people who have now received the first dose of vaccine. That will be published as soon as possible.
However, from the information I do have I can report that around 60% of people over 80 and living in the community have now had the first dose of the vaccine.
We are on track to complete first doses for over 80s by the target of the end of next week. However, we anticipate that the vast majority will actually have been done by the start of the week.
The over 70s will start to be vaccinated next week and all of them - along with those who are clinically extremely vulnerable - will have had the first dose by the middle of February.
As we make good progress with vaccination, we also see signs of progress in suppressing the virus.
We will later today publish the most up to date estimate of the R number, which suggests that it is now below 1.
This is not unexpected – given the decline in new cases that we have seen recently – but it is welcome. It provides further evidence that the lockdown restrictions are working.
That said, case numbers remain very high. And our NHS remains under severe pressure.
The number of people in hospital with Covid, for example, is still approximately 30% higher than at the peak last spring – although we are starting to see a welcome stabilisation in those figures as we see from the numbers I reported today.
It is therefore vital that cases continue to fall. That is why we have already confirmed that lockdown restrictions will continue until at least the middle of February.
As everyone is aware, we are considering and implementing further measures which will help us to keep the virus under control – both now and in the longer term.
They include tougher travel restrictions, and we will set out more proposals on that in the coming days, and further ongoing improvements to our test and protect system.
However for the moment, the single most important thing that we can do to protect each other, and keep the virus under control, is to follow the current rules and guidelines.
Put simply, that means that we need to stay home as much as possible.
We should leave home only for essential purposes. Those include caring responsibilities, essential shopping, or work that genuinely cannot be done from home and essential exercise.
And all of us should exercise responsible judgement on what is really essential and what is not.
We should not have people from other households in our houses or go into theirs.
And of course on any occasion when we do require to be out the house, we should follow the FACTS advice.
- wear face coverings when you are doing essential shopping;
- avoid places that are busy;
- clean hands and surfaces;
- use two metre distancing if you are talking to someone from another household
- and self-isolate and book a test if you have symptoms.
All of his will help us continue with the progress we have seen in the last couple of weeks
It will protect ourselves, our loved ones and our communities, and of course the NHS.
So my advice remains to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.
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