Priti Patel press conference: Home Secretary to issue lockdown alert in major No10 address

Priti Patel says police officers ‘will enforce regulations’

The Home Secretary will address the nation at 5pm tonight as she pleads the public to continue to abide by the Covid restrictions. It comes after a new Imperial College study indicated cases are still rising in lockdown.

The research found the number of age-65s and over who had the virus has more than doubled since the start of December.

Based on the results of swab test taken from almost 150,000 people outside of hospitals, the study indicated Covid cases were not dropping despite the lockdown put into place at the start of the year.

Imperial College’s Steven Riley said: “There’s no evidence of signs they are decreasing, ten days into lockdown.

“The deaths we’re seeing now are from levels of prevalence very similar to this.

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“We can’t expect them to drop to low levels.

“The number of Covid inpatients, which is extremely high at the moment, can’t be expected to drop unless we rapidly achieve lower levels of prevalence.”

Yesterday another 1,820 coronavirus deaths were recorded in the UK, a record number and a rise of 200 on the day before.

It is feared the daily death toll will continue to increase in the coming days, with hospital admissions also rising.

There are now 39,068 coronavirus patients in hospital beds – more than double the peak during the first wave of the virus last spring.

This evening the Home Secretary will once again remind the public the importance of sticking by the regulations to help reduce the spread of coronavirus.

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She last held a briefing nine days ago, when she said the police would take tough action on those breaking the rules.

Ms Patel said: “If you don’t play your part our selfless police officers, who are out there risking their own lives every day to keep us safe, will enforce the regulations.

“I will back them to do so, to protect our NHS and to save lives.”

She said a minority of the public was “putting the health of the nation at risk” by failing to follow the rules.

Following the new Imperial College study, Matt Hancock urged “we must not let down our guard over the weeks to come”.

The Health Secretary warned if infections continued to rise the NHS risked being overwhelmed – something the Government has been eager to avoid.

He continued: “Infections across England are at very high levels and this will keep having a knock-on effect on the already significant pressures faced by our NHS and hospitals.

“It is absolutely paramount that everyone plays their part to bring down infections.”

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