In a Downing Street press conference on Wednesday, October 20, Sajid Javid repeated his warning that Covid-19 cases could reach 100,000 a day as the country enters the winter period.
He said the UK was seeing “greater pressure” on the NHS but said the Government will “do what it takes to make sure that this pressure doesn’t become unsustainable, and that we don’t allow the NHS to become overwhelmed.”
Deaths “remain mercifully low” at the moment, but Mr Javid added: “We’ve always known that the winter months would pose the greatest threat to our road to recovery.”
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He continued: “Thanks to the vaccination programme, the link between hospitalisations and deaths has significantly weakened, but it’s not broken.
“So we must all remember that this virus will be with us for the long term and remains a threat to our loved ones, and a threat to the progress that we’ve made in getting our nation closer to normal life.”
Latest figures show that a further 179 people had died within 28 days of testing positive as of Wednesday.
As of 9am on Wednesday, there had been a further 49,139 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases in the UK.
The Health Secretary also repeated the message to the unvaccinated to take up the offer of a jab, describing it as a “huge step to protect yourself and to protect your loved ones”.
On the threat of new variants, he said: “We need to be ready for what lies around the corner.
“This means our ongoing programme of booster jabs is so important and this winter we’re prioritising those most in need.”
He said England had reached a “milestone” of four million top-up jabs on Wednesday, and added: “None of us want to go backwards now.
“So we must all play our part in this national mission, and think about what we can do to make a difference. That means getting the jab when the time comes, whether it’s for Covid-19 or flu.”
He stressed that people can take other measures such as meeting outdoors where possible, ensuring good ventilation, wearing masks in crowded spaces and taking lateral flow tests.