08/02/2021 18:05 GMT | Updated 08/02/2021 18:17 GMT

Still 'Too Early' To Book Summer Holidays, Warns Jonathan Van-Tam

Deputy chief medical officer cautions those making plans with other households over "making guesses about the unknown".

Deputy chief medical officer for England Jonathan Van-Tam during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on February 8, 2021.

It is still “too early” to book a summer holiday or plan getaways with people from other households, deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam has said. 

Speaking at a press conference in Downing Street, he said experts still do not have enough data about the coronavirus pandemic and whether it will be safe to go abroad this summer.

Asked about the issue, he said: “The more elaborate your plans are for summer holidays in terms of crossing borders, in terms of household mixing, given where we are now, I think you just have to say the more you’re stepping into making guesses about the unknown at this point.

“And so I can’t give people a proper answer at this point because we just don’t have the data. It’s too early.”

Health secretary Matt Hancock used the briefing to update the public on the vaccine programme and urged all people aged 70 and over to book their jab.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock, speaks at a coronavirus press conference inside 10 Downing Street in London, 

The health secretary insisted, however, that the country is “turning a corner in our battle against coronavirus”.

“The fewer new cases of coronavirus that we have, the lower the chance of a new variant appearing domestically,” he said. 

“So the essential message to stay at home, follow the social distancing rules, is our best defence right now.

“The number of people in hospital is still far too high but it is falling. The number of people who are dying from this disease is also far too high but that is falling too.

“We are turning a corner in our battle against coronavirus, the vaccine rollout is going well, and if you are aged 70 or over and haven’t been contacted yet please get in touch now.” 

Van-Tam said any easing of lockdown restrictions in England would have to take place “gradually”.

He told the briefing: “How quickly they can be released will depend upon three things – the virus, the vaccine and the extent to which the public obey the rules that are in place, which thankfully the vast majority do.” 

He added: “The key with this coronavirus is again through vaccination, to take the whole curve and shift it to the left, so the vast majority of the illness is an illness that is manageable in the community – as opposed to causing enormous pressure on our hospitals.

“And we can do that through vaccination, and if we do that we open up a whole way of living normally – much more normally – again in the future.”