London, Dec 1 : UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that the coronavirus situation is "back under control" as the month-long lockdown in England, the second of its kind since the onset of the pandemic, is due to end on Wednesday.
"We've got this virus back under control," Xinhua news agency quoted Hancock as saying during a virtual press briefing at the Downing Street on Monday.
According to the latest official figures, the UK's coronavirus reproduction number, known as the R number, has fallen to between 0.9 and 1.
If the R number is above one, it means the number of cases will increase exponentially.
Hancock said that the lockdown brought the Covid-19 situation under control in England, which means that people could have greater freedoms in tiers from Wednesday.
However, the Health Secretary warned that continued vigilance is needed as a tougher tiered system is set to replace the lockdown once it ends.
"We don't have much headroom. We can't risk letting cases rise again, especially into Christmas and with the flu season around the corner," he said.
Earlier on Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended the new tiered system ahead of a vote in the House of Commons (Lower House of Parliament) on the measures on Tuesday.
"We can't afford to take our foot off the throat of the beast, to take our foot off the gas. We can't afford to let it out of control again.
"The tiering system is tough, but it's designed to be tough and to keep it under control," he added.
Another 12,330 people the country tested positive for the virus in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to 1,633,733, according to official figures.
The death toll rose by 205 to 58,545.
Latest updates on Coronavirus (COVID-19)