Good morning. It’s a sign of how serious the coronavirus crisis is that Prof Chris Whitty, the government’s chief medical adviser, has been sent on to the airwaves this morning to address the nation. Whitty does not normally give interviews, but he’s a familiar figure from the No 10 press conferences, where his normal role is to provide some sort of “reality check” counterpoint to the prime minister’s heady optimism.
This morning Whitty is reality checking the nation as a whole. This quote, from his interview on the Today programme, sums up his message.
We’ve got to be very clear that we are now at the worst point of this epidemic for the UK. In the future we will have the vaccine, but the numbers at the moment are higher than they were in the previous peak by some distance. We’ve 30,000 people who are in the NHS, and that is still rising …
We’re now at a situation where in the UK as a whole around one in 50 people is infected and in London it’s around one in 30, in parts of London it’s around one in 20. So there’s a very high chance that if you meet someone unnecessarily they will have Covid.
I will post more from the Whitty’s media appearances shortly,
Here is the agenda for the day.
11am: Sir Keir Starmer gives a speech on the economy and families.
12pm: Downing Street is expected to hold its daily lobby briefing.
12.15pm: Vaughan Gething, the Welsh government’s health minister, holds a press briefing. He is due to publish the Welsh government’s Covid vaccination plan.
12.15pm: The Scottish government is expected to hold its daily coronavirus briefing.
2.30pm: Kate Bingham, head of the government’s vaccine taskforce, and other senior officials give evidence to the Commons public accounts committee about Covid vaccine planning.
5pm: Matt Hancock, the health secretary, is expected to hold a press conference. He will be promoting the UK government’s vaccines delivery plan being published today.
Politics Live is now doubling up as the UK coronavirus live blog and, given the way the Covid crisis eclipses everything, this will continue for the foreseeable future. But we will be covering non-Covid political stories too, and when they seem more important or more interesting, they will take precedence.
Here is our global coronavirus live blog.
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