My Hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for COVID Vaccine Deployment) (Nadhim Zahawi) has made the following written statement:
The lockdown has reduced social contact and, as such, the number of Covid-19 cases, hospital admissions and death rates have reduced significantly but continue to remain high across the country. As of 25 February, the weekly case rate for all ages in England is on average 97.1 per 100,000, and 65.2 per 100,000 for people aged 60 and over. Overall positivity for England is 4.3%, with rates continuing to remain higher than desired across the whole country. These figures remain high indicating that we are not yet ready to ease further restrictions immediately from an epidemiological perspective.
Data indicates that patients in hospital with COVID-19 across England has reduced to 10,765 and mechanical ventilation bed occupancy is 1,658 (as of 1 March). Sadly, between 15 February and 21 February there have been a total of 2,421 COVID 19 related deaths in England, within 28 days of a positive COVID 19 tests. The number of deaths within 28 days of a positive test has fallen and now reflect levels seen at the end of October. The Coronavirus England briefing, 4 March 2021, is available here:
The vaccine rollout continues to be a success for the UK. As of 2 March, over 20.4 million people across the UK have now received their first dose of a COVID vaccine – equal to over a third of the adult population, and over 840,000 people have now received their second dose of a COVID vaccine. Daily updates on vaccines doses are available here:
On 22 February, the Prime Minister announced a four-step roadmap to move England out of the current National Lockdown. The Government will take a cautious approach to easing restrictions which is guided by data. The measures set out for 8 March prioritise the return of face-to-face education in schools and colleges.
The full roadmap publication can be found at the following link: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/963491/COVID-19_Response_-_Spring_2021.pdf
Progression to the next step of the roadmap will be guided by data, and not dates. There will be at least five weeks between the steps in the roadmap: four weeks for the data to show the impact of the previous easing; and one week’s notice for the public and businesses ahead of future changes.
Before taking each step, the Government will review the latest data on the impact of the previous step against four tests.
- The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully
- Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated.
- Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS
- Our assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new Variants of Concern.
This statement has also been made in the House of Commons