"It’s still a bit too soon to outline where we’ll be in four weeks' time, let alone in six or eight weeks' time."
Lewis explained that there is “still a long way to go” and people cannot expect the jab to come to the rescue at this stage, as it will take at least a month before the benefits of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout are felt and pressure on the NHS is reduced.
In his justification for continuing the lockdown measures, Lewis cited the new variants of the virus that have been detected in the UK, including the Brazilian and Spanish strains, and how they have increased the rate of infection, as well as how quickly things can develop.
"It’s dangerous to get too far ahead of ourselves."
While Lewis was cautious to provide an exact date for a review of the lockdown measures, despite Conservative Party MPs suggesting it could happen on March 8, he empathised with members of the public who might find continued restrictions “frustrating,” urging them to stick with it for the public good.
The UK has been in a national lockdown since January 5, with the public told to remain at home, except for work, exercise, shopping or to seek medical assistance. While new daily Covid-19 infections have started to fall in the UK, with the nation reporting a decrease of 22.2 percent in new cases for the past seven days, deaths have continued to rise, with an increase of 21.8 percent on the previous week.
Four million people in the UK have now received the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, including more than half of over-80s as well as care-home workers and residents. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the figures on Monday during a visit to Oxford/AstraZeneca’s manufacturing site, as he praised the progress made ahead of the expansion of the vaccine rollout to over-70s.