England is a “long, long, long road” from easing lockdown restrictions amid “enormous” pressure on the National Health Service (NHS), UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Sunday.

On Sky News, Hancock said, “There are early signs the lockdown is starting to topple cases. But we’re far from low enough because the fall rate has been incredibly high and you can see the pressure on the NHS. You can see it every day. ”

Hancock urged to comment on whether the UK would need a blanket ban on people traveling to the country for fear of new variants: “We must have a precautionary principle. We introduced pre-departure tests and we also introduced checks for everyone to verify that this has happened and that the passenger search form is completed.

“But it’s absolutely important that we protect this country from a new variant that the vaccine may not be able to handle as well. We can’t risk the advances we’ve made.”

Regardless, England’s deputy chief doctor urged people who have already been vaccinated to continue to adhere to social distancing rules.

“Even after you have received both doses of the vaccine, you can still give Covid-19 to someone else and the chains of transmission will continue,” wrote Jonathan Van-Tam in the Sunday Telegraph. “If you change your behavior, you can still spread the virus, keep the number of cases high and put others at risk who also need their vaccine but are lower in the queue.”

Health Secretary Hancock praised the introduction of the vaccine in the country, saying that more than three-quarters of people over 80 have been vaccinated and a similar number in nursing homes.

“We have vaccinated more people in the last three days than, for example, France in the entire history of the disease,” he added.

“The good news is that there are early signs that the surge in the number of cases has certainly stopped and that cases are gradually falling in many parts of the country,” he later added while speaking to the BBC.

The UK has had at least 97,329 Covid-19-related deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University, making it one of the highest per capita death rates in the world.

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