People who are fully vaccinated against coronavirus have been urged not to be complacent and continue wearing a face mask to help avoid restrictions returning later this year.
Health secretary Sajid Javid warned a Downing Street press conference on Wednesday that the pandemic “is not over” and said that Covid cases could soon hit 100,000 a day.
Although ruling out launching the government’s Plan B strategy – which includes the return of some social distancing measures and asking people to work from home – Mr Javid said that if everyone doesn’t play their part to help limit the spread of Covid, restrictions would be more likely.
Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), also warned that the number of deaths from Covid are “moving in the wrong direction”.
She told the briefing that “small behavioural changes in all of us”, such as wearing face masks and getting booster jabs, could help bring down the R number – currently at 0.9 to 1.1 in England.
Addressing fully vaccinated people, she said: “Don’t think not to wear a face covering, put a face covering on. You may be carrying an infection with you and not know. It’s really important.
“Children have largely had infection and so if people adopt those behaviours and we keep the vaccination rates up and children are going forward to get their vaccinations as well over the half term, then I think that R rate can, we can all tip it down under one.”
It comes as the latest Government figures show that a further 179 people have died of Covid, with nearly 50,000 new cases recorded in the UK as of 9am on Wednesday.
Hospital admissions stand at 868 on average per day over the last seven days, up from 780 a week earlier, a rise of 11%.
Mr Javid told the press conference that everyone has a “role to play” in limiting the spread of Covid.
“Am I saying that if we don’t do our bit, get vaccinated, all those behavioural changes that we can make, that we are more likely to face restrictions as we head into winter? Then I am saying that.
“If not enough people get their booster jabs, if not enough of those people that were eligible for the original offer, the five million I’ve talked about, if they don’t come forward, if people don’t wear masks when they really should in a really crowded place with lots of people that they don’t normally hang out with, if they’re not washing their hands and stuff, it’s going to hit us all.
“And it would of course make it more likely we’re going to have more restrictions.
“Now we want to avoid those. We’ve set out what those restrictions might look like, we’ve set out the Plan B restrictions for example. And we all want to avoid those. So we’ve all got a role to play.”