LT24::BBC::Downing Street::The UK is at the “worst point” of the pandemic, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has warned, but said the actions of the public “could made a difference”.

At a No 10 briefing, Mr Hancock pleaded with people to follow the government’s Covid rules until the vaccine could provide a “way out” of the pandemic.

The government earlier published its plan to immunise tens of millions of people by spring.

So far 2.3 million people in the UK have had a first Covid vaccine shot.

And a total of 2.6 million doses have been given out across the country, with some people having received both doses.

Mr Hancock said the new variant of coronavirus was putting the NHS under “significant pressure”, adding it was “imperative” that people limit their social contacts.

“The NHS, more than ever before, needs everybody to be doing something right now – and that something is to follow the rules,” he said.

“I know there has been speculation about more restrictions, and we don’t rule out taking further action if it is needed, but it is your actions now that can make a difference.”

The health secretary said he could “rule out” tightening restrictions by removing support and childcare bubbles, however.

His comments follow similar warnings from Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and England’s chief medical officer Prof Whitty, who said that the next few weeks will be “the worst” of the pandemic for the NHS.

According to the latest figures, there have been another 46,169 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK. There are also more than 32,000 people in hospital with coronavirus, data shows.

Coronavirus statistics for January 11

Map showing where England's vaccination centres and mass vaccination sites are, as well as the UK's hospital hubs

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