Health Secretary Matt Hancock will lead a Downing Street press conference at 5pm today.

Mr Hancock will give an update on the coronavirus situation as the latest figures show the number of new Covid cases is rising in more than half of England’s towns and cities,

Despite a sharp fall in infection rates, analysis of Public Health England data shows that 163 of England’s 315 local authority areas have seen a week-on-week rise in new cases.

But a new PHE study offered hope as it found that a single dose of the Covid jab could cut transmission by up to half.

The research found that people given a single dose of either the Pfizer or Oxford vaccines – and who became infected at least three weeks later – were between 38% and 49% less likely to pass the virus on to people living in their homes.

One in four UK adults are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, after a record number of second doses were delivered in the past week.

One in 4 Brits are now fully vaccinated
One in 4 Brits are now fully vaccinated
(Image: PA)

Dr Mike Tildesley, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-M) group, said it was likely that people would be able to hug their loved ones after June 21 – the final stage of the Prime Minister’s lockdown roadmap.

He said the decision on whether social distancing would be needed after the June road map date could be a political one.

Asked when people will be able to be hug a love one, if both have been vaccinated, he told TimesRadio: “I think this is really difficult because of course, in a sense, this becomes more of a sort of a political decision rather than an epidemiological decision because we have been told that on June 21 all of these legal limits on contact will be removed, but it’s still unclear exactly what that means.

“Whether that means that on that date some social distancing will be in place or whether all of those will be removed and you’ll be able to go and hug your loved ones…

“I think the key thing is that if you’re both vaccinated, of course, it does reduce the risk of anyone becoming severely ill and my hope is that as we move towards that June date, we will be in a position that we can not just see our loved ones, but also we can hug our loved ones because it’s been a very long time since we’ve been able to do that.

Mr Hancock is also likely to face questions about the sleaze allegations swirling around the Government.

Boris Johnson is under pressure from all sides over the lavish renovation of his official Downing Street flat amid an ongoing row over lobbying and allegations of cronyism.

He is also facing criticism over reports he said he would rather see “bodies pile high” than take the country into a third lockdown.

Labour’s Lisa Nandy said allegations of cronyism and sleaze “at the heart of government” must be “cleaned up”.

She told Sky News: “We are focused on the pandemic but we also want to know that we have a Prime Minister in this country who puts the interests of the people in this country first.”

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