‘If you have food in the house, please use that’: Hancock warns people in South African Covid areas

Daily Mail

People in areas hit by outbreaks of the new South African variant of coronavirus should eat out of their freezer and store cupboards before considering leaving the house to shop for fresh food, Matt Hancock said today.

The Heath Secretary repeated warnings that the highly transmissible strain was the main problem now facing Britain and required people to take a more strict attitude to staying at home. 

New Data from Oxford University showing its vaccine cuts transmission ‘will help us all to get out of this pandemic’, he said this morning as hopes were raised over the lifting of lockdown.

But he also warned that new variants of coronavirus – which reduce the effectiveness of vaccines – could slow things down.

Another 33 cases of the troublesome South African Covid variant have been spotted in Britain, health chiefs revealed last night amid growing fears over mutant strains that experts say could make vaccines less effective.

Public Health England claimed 143 people have now been struck down with the variant since it was first discovered on British soil in December – including five in Scotland and nine in Wales. None have been found in Northern Ireland.

The senior Government minister told BBC Breakfast: ‘We’re in a national lockdown so there is not a stronger law we can bring in place that says ”Really stay at home” but the critical point is that everybody should be staying at home unless they have to.

‘If you are in one of those postcodes, it is absolutely imperative that you minimise all social contact outside of your house.

‘So this means, for instance, whereas the Government guidance to most of us is ”Do go to the shops if you need to”, in those areas, in the immediate term, we are saying ”If you have food in the house, please use that”.

‘It is about a more stringent interpretation of the existing rules, trying to make sure that in those areas we do everything we possibly can to end all transmissions so we can get this new variant right under control.

‘There are only a handful of cases, so we have the opportunity to really stamp on it now.’

It came as 10 million people in the UK were revealed to have now received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

The Health Secretary hailed the milestone as ‘hugely significant’ while the Prime Minister expressed thanks to those who had helped make it happen.

Mr Hancock said ‘every jab makes us all a bit safer’, as he made the announcement on Twitter.

In England, a total of 9,126,930 Covid-19 vaccinations took place between December 8 and February 2, according to provisional NHS England data, including first and second doses, which is a rise of 301,559 on the previous day’s figures.

Of this number, 8,663,041 were the first dose of the vaccine, a rise of 300,173 on the previous day, while 463,889 were the second dose, an increase of 1,386.

In yet another potential twist to the UK’s coronavirus crisis, officials today also announced they have found 11 cases of the Kent coronavirus variant which carries an extra mutation in Bristol.

And 32 people in Liverpool have been struck down with the original strain of the virus that has the same mutation – scientifically known as E484K. MailOnline understands the cases were spotted three weeks ago.

Around one in seven people in England would have tested positive for Covid-19 antibodies by mid-January, figures suggest.

Data from blood studies from private households suggests a rise in the number who have had coronavirus in England – up from an estimated one in nine people in December and one in 11 in November.

The figures come from the Office for National Statistics Covid-19 Infection Survey and do not include people in care homes, hospitals or other institutions.

An estimated one in nine people in Wales had been infected by mid-January, up from one in 14 in December.

For Scotland, the estimate was one in 10, up from one in 13, and for Northern Ireland it was one in 11, up from one in 14.

The ONS said it had found ‘substantial variation’ in the proportion of people estimated to have tested positive for Covid-19 antibodies across the regions.

The highest figure was 21 per cent in London, followed by the West Midlands (18.8 per cent) and Yorkshire & the Humber (18.7 per cent).

South-west England was estimated to have the lowest level (8.3 per cent), followed by south-east England (10.2 per cent) and eastern England (10.8 per cent).

Estimates for the other regions were north-west England 18.1 per cent, north-east England 16.2 per cent and the East Midlands 15.7 per cent.

Meanwhile Oxford University and AstraZeneca plan to have a new Covid vaccine ready by the autumn to tackle new variants of the coronavirus, they confirmed today.

Growing evidence suggests that a mutation first found in the South African variant of the virus, and now cropping up elsewhere, can reduce how well current vaccines work because it changes the shape of the spike protein that the jabs target.

And to overcome this, jab manufacturers say they are already working on updating their vaccines because they need to be extremely specific to offer the best form of protection.

The Oxford/AstraZeneca team, makers of one of the world’s most advanced vaccines so far, say they will have their adapted version ready and manufactured before the end of 2021.

Oxford’s Professor Andrew Pollard, who is leading studies of the jab, said it would be a ‘short process’ compared to making the original vaccine from scratch.

The update could be used either as a booster for people who have already had a different vaccine or it could be used on its own for those who are still unvaccinated.

AstraZeneca’s executive vice-president, Sir Mene Pangalos, said today: ‘We’re very much aiming to have something ready by the autumn this year.’

The announcement comes after the team got a huge boost to their jab development from a study published last night that suggested it can cut transmission by up to two thirds and a single dose can prevent 76 per cent of severe illnesses for three months, with that rising to 82 per cent after the second dose.

Professor Andrew Pollard told a media briefing: ‘I think the actual work on designing a new vaccine is very, very quick because it’s essentially just switching out the genetic sequence for the spike protein, so for the updated variants.

‘Then there’s manufacturing to do and then a small-scale study.

‘All of that can be completed in a very short period of time, and the autumn is really the timing for having new vaccines available for use rather than for having the clinical trials run.’

Mr Johnson is resisting renewed Tory pressure to speed up lockdown easing today after a crucial study found the AstraZeneca vaccine cuts coronavirus transmission.

Fresh analysis from Oxford University showed the jab offers 76 per cent protection up to three months after the first dose, and can dramatically reduce the potential for passing on the disease.

Matt Hancock hailed the findings as proof the rollout ‘will help us all to get out of this pandemic’, with hopes that infections and deaths could fall faster as more of the public are covered. The government passed the milestone of 10million doses administered yesterday.

Senior Conservatives seized on the news to demand the country gets back up and running faster, with huge damage being wreaked on children’s education and the economy.

Mark Harper, chair of the lockdown-sceptic Covid Recovery Group of MPs pointed out that Nicola Sturgeon is bringing back schools from February 22, whereas Mr Johnson has said March 8 is the earliest possible date in England.

‘The PM said last week that reopening schools was a ”national priority”. Now that Scotland has indicated that schools are likely to return from February 22, there needs to be a very good reason for keeping English schools shut for so much longer,’ the former chief whip said.

However, government sources played down the idea that the timetable can be brought forward, with case levels still high and fears over mutant strains.

‘It’s March 8, no change,’ one said. ‘It’s good reassuring news about the AstraZeneca vaccine, but steady as she goes.’

Read more here: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9218821/If-food-house-use-Hancock-warns-people-South-African-Covid-areas.html

2 thoughts on “‘If you have food in the house, please use that’: Hancock warns people in South African Covid areas

  1. Yeah, comply now. Surrender your stores. Cooperate and help advance your own starvation. No more prepping, except for extra masks. Comply!!

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  2. Sounds like the Brit govt. has gone full-blown “let ’em eat cake”…. Gee, Brits, are you sorry you gave up your guns yet?

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