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There are “promising signs the lockdown is working” in England, Matt Hancock claimed today.
The Health Secretary said he was starting to see a “flattening” in cases as data begins to trickle in from the month-long shutdown.
Mr Hancock pointed to the rolling seven-day average of new cases in the UK, which fell very slightly from 24,601 as of November 10 to 24,489 as of November 11.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “There are promising signs that we’ve seen a flattening of the number of cases since lockdown was brought in.
“That is good news – clearly there is further to go.
A chart by the PA Media news agency showing a similar set of data
(Image: Press Association Images)
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“Yesterday we saw for the first time the seven day average of cases coming down.
“I’m calling it a flattening rather than a fall because one swallow doesn’t make a summer.
“But these are promising signs that the lockdown is working to get the number of cases under control.”
November 11 is the most recent date available for a seven-day rolling figure, as it includes days both before and after November 11 to take an average.
The average is calculated using the day a test was taken, not when the results came in. More recent days cannot be used as not all their tests have come back with results yet.
It come as Tory ministers draw up plans for the end of England’s national lockdown on December 2.
Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, said new cases were starting to ease
(Image: Getty Images)
A plan to return to a regional ‘tier’ local lockdowns system is expected to be produced in Parliament next week.
There are likely to be new rules for the tier system compared to then they were last in force in October.
Ministers are also expecting to unveil a special set of UK-wide rules for Christmas around next week.
Reports suggest three or four households will be allowed to meet indoors for a period of up to five days.
But previous SAGE modelling suggested 5 days of looser restrictions would need 25 days of lockdown to “pay” for it.
That has prompted a backlash from government sources, who insisted the modelling was “preliminary and unpublished”.
Today Mr Hancock said there would need to be some rules in place at Christmas but told broadcasters he was keen for people to have "some joy" after a tough year.
"We do hope over Christmas to agree a set of rules across the UK, because so many people travel around the UK, and that work is ongoing," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
"But there will have to be rules in place, we just hope to be able to get something of the yearning people have to see their loved ones at Christmas and to have some of that joy that Christmas brings. But it has to be careful."
The Cabinet minister added: "Christmas is a special time of year and we've had such a difficult year in 2020 – it has been such a terrible year and having some hope, some joy at Christmas, I know that would be welcomed by so many people.
"So we are trying to agree across the UK a set of rules that allows for that joy but keeps people safe."
Mr Hancock said transmission levels were "slightly" different in each part of the UK, but added: "Across the UK as a whole, we are now seeing that flattening of the curve."