CORONAVIRUS is NOT out of control in the UK, Matt Hancock insisted today – even though cases have spiked to levels last seen in May.
The Health Secretary made the claim after scientists warned the virus in theUK is "moving into a period of exponential growth" – and Brits should "expect further increases over the coming weeks".
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In an interview on LBC, Mr Hancock admitted the number of new cases is "concerning".
However, he said the spike is not out of control.
And he even believes a vaccine could be ready by the end of this year in a "best case" scenario – although it's more likely it'll arrive early next year.
It comes as scientists said cases had risen during August as a result of increased testing – but new data suggests the virus is spreading more quickly.
Yesterday, the UK recorded its highest number of daily Covid-19 cases since May after 2,988 were reported in just 24 hours.
The last time the UK's caseload was this high was May 23 – 15 weeks ago – when 2,959 people tested positive.
Speaking on LBC radio this morning, Mr Hancock said: "This rise in case we have seen in the last few days is concerning, and it’s concerning because we have seen a rise in cases in France, Spain and some other countries in Europe.
"Nobody wants to see a second wave here.
"It just reinforces the point that people must follow the social distancing rules, they are so important."
Asked by presenter Nick Ferrari if the UK had "lost control", Mr Hancock said: "No, but the whole country needs to follow social distancing."
He also blamed the spike in cases on affluent young people aged between 17 and 21.
"We are seeing problems with social distancing. The rise in cases is largely among younger people, under 25s, especially between 17 and 21," he said.
"The message is that even though you are at lower risk of dying of Covid if you are of that age, you can still have really serious symptoms and consequences.
"Also, you can infect other people."
Last week, experts said that there's been a surge in positive cases because more people are getting tested.
However, it's now reportedly believed that more people are getting infected in the first place.
Asked whether the record numbers of cases were due to testing, Mr Hancock said: "There is a degree of that.
"But we also check what we call the test positivity – so both the number of cases we find, but also the proportion of people who test positive.
"That is going up as well."
Professor Gabriel Scally, a former NHS regional director of public health for the south-west, said the government had "lost control of the virus".
In an interview with the Guardian, the academic said: "They’ve lost control of the virus.
"It’s no longer small outbreaks they can stamp on.
"It’s become endemic in our poorest communities and this is the result.
"It’s extraordinarily worrying when schools are opening and universities are going to be going back."
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