UK health secretary Matt Hancock says it will not be safe to hug friends or family members you don’t live with until a coronavirus vaccine has been found.
He said he hoped a vaccine would be available by autumn, though prime minister Boris Johnson warned yesterday that one might never be found.
Hancock also told people to abandon any hopes of going abroad for a holiday in the months ahead, admitting that ‘summer is cancelled’
Appearing on TV Wednesday morning, Mr Hancock was challenged over inconsistencies in the official coronavirus advice as the government was accused of poorly communicating its new lockdown rules.
The Express reports: But there is still widespread confusion and Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby wanted clear concise answers from Matt Hancock MP during his appearance on This Morning about what people can and can’t do – especially when society could return to hugging one another.
Schofield began: “We, like a lot of people, were very confused by what we heard. It didn’t appear very clear at all, I know today you are trying to clarify everything.
“We are also fully aware you’ve never done this before, no one has been through this before to lock a country down and then attempt to unlock it. But do you agree that yesterday the government confused us?”
Hancock replied: “Well, I’m here to make sure everybody understands as best as possible what we are trying to achieve.”
But those watching at home saw Schofield interrupt: “But do you agree that yesterday the government confused us?”
“Well, I think we were quite clear,” Hancock hit back. “I did see the clip on the internet of some of your frustration Phillip and I thought the best thing to do was to come and answer the questions directly and make sure your viewers get it straight from the horse’s mouth.”
After discussing the logistics of why those living in England were only advised to see one parent at one time, to why reception and year one children are the chosen classes to return to school and education, and whether or not there is still enough PPE for hospitals, frontline staff and care workers, Schofield brought up the effects lockdown is having on people’s mental health and wellbeing.
“What’s your estimate for us, giving someone we just met a hug?” Schofield asked.
“Well, I wouldn’t recommend it,” the Health Secretary stated.
“But how long do you think until we’re through this and we look to that moment and say ‘Hi’ and give them a hug?” The presenter tried again.
“Well, really to get to the point when this is totally sorted, when we have a treatment or vaccine,” Hancock revealed.
“Those developing the vaccine think they should have it on stream for autumn and I’m cautious, I’m giving them all the support we possibly can but the science of vaccines is very complicated.
“The trials are going really well so far, there’s several hundred people got the vaccine in them already to test is and to test that it’s safe and it works.
“Those trials are going well but if it comes off by the autumn that would be wonderful, but there is a lot of science between now and then to get it,” Hancock added.