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Covid news LIVE: Health Secretary to give update at Downing Street briefing

Health Secretary Sajid Javid will provide a Covid update later today during a Downing Street press conference.

Mr Javid will update the nation for the first time in week amid concerns over rising Covid cases. The press conference is expected to take place at the usual time of 5pm.

The Health Secretary is expected to speak about booster vaccinations and the work of the Antivirals Taskforce.

Earlier today, England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty has urged people to get vaccinated against Covid-19 or take up the offer of a booster shot.

He said: “Covid-19 cases are rising and winter is drawing closer. 1) If you have not been vaccinated, now is the time. 2) If you are offered a booster please take up the offer. 3) Ventilation, masks in crowded indoor spaces and hand washing remain important.”

Follow live updates here:

'We know that immunity is waning'

Professor Martin Marshall, head of the Royal College of GPs, said the vaccination situation was “concerning”.

He told BBC Radio 4’s World at One: “We know that immunity is waning. Six months after you receive the second vaccination we know that immunity is – in some cases – considerably less, it will be different for different people.

“We know that the number of people who are eligible for a booster vaccination is about 30 million people – that’s mostly people over the age of 50, health and care workers and some people at risk.”

But, he added: “Only 3.8 million people have received a vaccination so far.

“We know that the booster vaccination is incredibly important in order to protect individual patients and indeed to protect the NHS during a winter that we expect to be really difficult, not just with Covid but with flu and other infections as well.”

Prof Marshall said GP surgeries should not be drawn back into administering the bulk of vaccinations because “we simply don’t have the capacity to do that” but “there needs to be much stronger messaging from the centre about the importance of the booster vaccination, and much clearer messaging about where to get it and how to get it”.

'We continue to look at the latest scientific data'

Downing Street has said there are no plans for a further Covid-19 lockdown in England.

A No 10 spokesman said:

“We have set out our autumn and winter plan in terms of ‘Plan A’ and ‘Plan B’, and we continue to look at the latest scientific data.

“There isn’t any proposed plan for any further lockdowns. We are sticking to the autumn and winter plan we have set out.”

'No plans' for winter Plan B

Ministers have no plans to activate the Government’s winter Covid “Plan B”, Downing Street has said.

A No 10 spokesman they would continue to monitor the latest figures for the disease but that the numbers of hospital admissions and deaths were still “substantially lower” than they were earlier in the year.

“The important thing is that is the fact that our vaccination programme has has been successful in breaking the link between cases and hospitalisations and deaths,” the spokesman said.

“Our focus remains on ensuring ensuring we get boosters out to those who are eligible.”

Health Secretary to hold Downing Street press conference

Health Secretary Sajid Javid will hold a press conference this evening.

It comes amid concerns over soaring infection rates - and after the Government rejected a health chief's call for coronavirus 'Plan B' as cases surge.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid (Image: Victoria Jones/PA Wire)

On Tuesday, the Government said a further 223 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 - bringing the UK total to 138,852.

While the numbers are often higher on Tuesdays because of a lag in reporting deaths and cases over the weekend, this is the highest figure for daily reported deaths since March 9.

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