Coronavirus spread ‘largely due to households meeting’ – Health Secretary

The spread of coronavirus is largely due to people visiting family and friends and not keeping to social distancing rules, the Health Secretary has said.

Matt Hancock said test and trace data has shown "most of the transmission is happening between households" and between people visiting family and friends.

His comments came after it was announced that people from different households in Greater Manchester, and parts of east Lancashire and West Yorkshire would be banned from meeting each other inside their homes or in gardens following a spike in cases.

Mr Hancock told BBC Breakfast: "Whenever anybody tests positive, the vast majority of them we manage to speak to, and we ask which contacts they've had, and that's shown that the vast majority of contact of people who have the virus, other than people in their own household... is from households visiting and then visiting friends and relatives.

"One of the terrible things about this virus is it thrives on the sort of social contact that makes life worth living and that is a serious problem with the virus."

On Thursday night, Mr Hancock wrote on Twitter: "The spread is largely due to households meeting and not abiding to social distancing."

He said two households can still meet "at a social distance in a public place outdoors", such as a park where there is lots of space, but meeting another household in pub gardens or outdoor restaurant space is not allowed in the newly restricted area.

Asked about the prospect of crowds gathering together too closely on the expected hottest day of the year on Friday, the Health Secretary told the BBC: "It's so important that people follow social distancing rules. My message is people need to keep doing that.

"We've shown we're prepared to take action if that's necessary.

"Having just announced this action last night I don't this morning want to talk about what more we might do, but we have shown we're prepared to take action."