Elderly Brits may be able to hug their grandchildren again if the number of coronavirus cases continue to fall, the Health Secretary has said.
Matt Hancock explained that some social distancing measure may be eased as long as the number of new Covid-19 cases in Britain drops.
Families across the UK have been unable to see family members for several weeks since the lockdown began, especially the elderly.
Current social distancing rules state people should not go and visit other family members, isolating millions of grandparents.
During a Q&A with Sky News, Mr Hancock said if cases fall then the elderly could hug their grandchildren once again.
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Linda asked Mr Hancock: “Am I going to have to wait until a vaccine is found before I can hug my grandchildren and see friends or are other options being considered to guarantee my safety outside lockdown?”
The Health Secretary then replied: “We may well be able to release some of those measures before a vaccine is available, if we can get the number of new cases right down.
“In some countries we have managed to get the number of new cases right down.
“If we get there and succeed, then we will be able to take clinical advice on whether its safe for those people be able to hug their grandchildren.”
Mr Hancock also told Sky News that there is no guarantee a vaccine will be found.
Speaking as the UK death toll passes 30,000, Matt Hancock said Britons may have to “find a way to live with the virus” if the race to develop a vaccine fails.
He said: “If a vaccine can’t be found then we have to learn to find a way to live with this virus so that means getting the numbers down and holding them down through, for instance, mass-scale testing and then tracing the virus through a combination of technology and human contact tracers.”
He added: “We may well be able to release some of those measures before a vaccine is available if we can get the number of new cases right down.
“If we succeed in doing that we will be able to take clinical advice on whether it is safe for those who are shielded to, for instance, to hug their grandchildren. That is right at the front of my mind.”
Mr Hancock rejected claims the Government had sacrificed people in care homes in order to protect the NHS during the pandemic.
But he acknowledged that a lack of capacity meant it had not been possible to test everyone leaving hospitals for Covid-19 before they went into a care home.
The Health Secretary claimed the UK is now a world leader in testing for Covid-19.
He admitted that it would have been “wonderful” to have a diagnostics industry like Germany to tackle the coronavirus crisis – but insisted the UK has now caught up with the Germans in terms of testing.