Matt Hancock will review England's tier levels today - what he might say

Health Secretary Matt Hancock is to announce any changes to tier restrictions today.

The announcement comes against the backdrop of a significant rise in cases, partly caused by the spread of a new covid variant.

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Speaking to Sky News Hancock said: “We are facing a very significant challenge in the NHS right now”.

“There has been a significant rise in the number of cases – the highest number of cases recorded yesterday, 53,000 cases.

“We are going to have to take further action.”

What time is Matt Hancock speaking? 

Tier reviews are to be reviewed every two weeks by law, with the latest review due to take place on December 30.

The Health Secretary will address the House of Commons, confirming any changes, at 3pm. This is subject to change due to a debate and vote on the Brexit deal.

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How can I watch?

You can tune in to watch Matt Hancock deliver tier updates via BBC Parliament.

Alternatively you can watch online through BBC iPlayer here, while Sky News has a live YouTube stream here.

What changes will be made?

It is widely expected that millions more will be placed under stricter tier four conditions, with reports suggesting that a stricter tier 5 may be announced.

Matt Hancock hinted at tighter measures, saying “we are going to have to take further action,” during an interview with Sky News.

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Speaking to BBC News on Wednesday morning Epidemiologist Professor Andrew Hayward suggested that tighter measures would be necessary.

He said: “I think we’re really facing a very stark choice between many tens of thousands of avoidable deaths despite the vaccine or tighter restrictions across the country that will damage our economy.

“I think the scale of the threat that we face means that we really will need to tighten across the country and I would expect that to be the decision today.”

Vaccine silver lining

The Health Secretary will likely temper any strict announcements with news of the approval of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine for mass rollout.

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The jab, which has been described as a “game changer”, was given the green light by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the vaccine is a “great British success story” and confirmed the rollout will begin on January 4, including to care homes.

He told Sky News: “I am now, with this approval this morning, highly confident that we can get enough vulnerable people vaccinated by the spring that we can now see the route out of this pandemic.”