MATT Hancock will lead a Downing Street press conference this afternoon to provide the latest updates on the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK.

The Health Secretary will provide updates at 5pm on the state of play around Coronavirus, joined by experts.

Mr Hancock presented the last Covid-19 press conference on Friday and will be back before the national press later today.

What will Matt Hancock cover?

The big story today is the arrival of Brazil's Manaus variant in the UK.

Six cases have been found so far - three in England and three in Scotland - and all bar one have been tracked down.

The hunt is on to find the final mystery person with the strain in England, who failed to properly fill in their contact information on the test, so it is currently unknown who or where they are.

The Manaus variant, which was first found in the remote Amazonian city in central Brazil, is a cause of concern for scientists as it could spread more rapidly and is potentially more resistant to existing vaccines.

It's a race against time to find this person before they spread the variant to more people.

Expect Matt Hancock to be grilled on how this person slipped through the net, and also on the Government's quarantine hotel rules which have been consistently criticised as being ineffective and for being months too late.


Matt Hancock will also cover the latest vaccinatiion data, as more people continue to be invited for their jabs and increasing numbers of the most vulnerable people are now being called for their second doses.

Covid infection rates

On Friday, there were stark warnings that Covid-19 infection rates were rising in 20 per cent of local authorities despite national lockdown, and the public was reminded that the fight gainst Covid is not over yet.

Expect Matt Hancock to reaffirm these warnings again later on that people need to continue following stay at home rules.

Back to school

Final preparations are underway at schools across the country this week for the return of students on March 8.

Schools have stayed open for key worker and vulnerable children but this will be the first time in 2021, apart from January 4, that schools are full again.

Secondary schools are having a phased return to allow testing to take place easier.

Expect questions to be asked about testing and staff and student safety again, and don't be surprised for him to be asked again why teachers were not prioritised for vaccines, despite a pretty robust answer from Professor Jonathan Van-Tam on this topic on Friday, when he pointed out Covid death rates among teachers are far lower than many other riskier occupations.

We will be running a live blog of this afternoon's press conference where you can follow all the updates as they happen.