Responding to the latest Downing Street press conference, Danny Mortimer, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across the healthcare sector, said:
“It has never been more important that people abide by the rules and stay at home. Despite evidence that the lockdown may be beginning to work, case rates are still incredibly high, the entire health and care sector is under extreme pressure and we are learning more of the possible dangers of the new variants. We simply have to drive down rates of infection and allow our healthcare services to catch their breath. We are still in a Covid emergency which is likely to get worse before it gets better.
“If we are to be more effective at keeping the infection rate down, we need to see evidence on exactly how and where people are contracting the virus so the appropriate action can be taken to prevent transmission further during the lockdown.
“We have hugely encouraging news on the progress of the vaccination programme reaching the majority of over 80s and elderly care home residents thanks to the sterling efforts from GP-led centres and other parts of the NHS, which are ready to do more if the supply is there.
"But this is no time to relax as more new mutations could be driven by a higher prevalence in the community. Every rule break does not just endanger your family or your street, but is another step away from exiting restrictions and a further opportunity for another strain to take hold.”