Boris Johnson to address nation at 5pm as millions brace for tier four

Boris Johnson will address the nation in a press conference at 5pm today, Downing Street has announced.

It remains unknown what the conference will be about, but it comes as millions more are expected to be put under tier four restrictions.

An announcement on schools reopening is also set to come today, with the prime minister said to be considering keeping secondary schools shut in order to reduce coronavirus transmission after Christmas.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson is to make a statement at around 4pm in the House of Commons.

Covid deaths have jumped by 8% in a week, with nearly a quarter (22.9%) of all deaths registered in England and Wales in the week to December 18 mentioning the virus on the death certificate.

A total of 2,986 deaths registered in this week mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate – up from 2,756 deaths in the week to December 11, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show.

More than 88,000 deaths involving coronavirus have now occurred in the UK, according to the latest reports from the UK’s statistics agencies.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed this morning that ‘further action’ would be taken.

He told Sky News: ‘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. I’m going to set that out the House of Commons later today.’

Cabinet minister Michael Gove has refused to rule out nationwide tier four restrictions, saying the decision depends on the ‘medical situation’ over the coming weeks and months.

However, the country was given a glimmer of hope today as the Oxford vaccine was approved for use.

It means the UK has now cleared two vaccines, having given the green light to Pfizer’s jab in early December.

The prime minister celebrated this morning, saying: ‘It is truly fantastic news – and a triumph for British science – that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has been approved for use. 

‘We will now move to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible.’

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