Boris Johnson in surprise announcement today as UK Covid death toll tops 100k

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson will hold a surprise Downing Street briefing at 5pm on Tuesday, January 26.

He will appear alongside England's chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, and Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England.

No indication has been given as to exactly why the briefing has suddenly been called but the PM is expected to talk about the UK death toll, Daily Mirror reports.

The briefing will be held as the country's coronavirus death toll went past the grim 100,000 mark, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.

Data released on Tuesday morning reveals that by January 15, coronavirus had been mentioned on 103,704 death certificates.

The UK is one of just five countries to pass the grim 100,000 coronavirus deaths milestone, following the USA, India, Mexico and Brazil, meaning the country now has the highest death toll in Europe.

News of the briefing cams as a surprise as usually they are confirmed publicly before noon but on Tuesday the announcement was made just before 2pm.

Downing Street says that it intends to give three press conferences per week during the UK's third national lockdown, down from seven a week last Spring.

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It follows news that the Prime Minister says he is looking at the option of introducing quarantine hotels for those coming to Britain to prevent the risk of "vaccine-busting" new coronavirus variants entering the country.

Nadhim Zahawi, the minister responsible for the rollout of the UK's Covid-19 vaccination programme, said details would come later on Tuesday.

"The government is looking at, as the prime minister has confirmed, the hotel quarantine policy, and we'll make an announcement on this in the appropriate way," he told the BBC.

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Mr Zahawi also told Sky News: "There will be an announcement on this issue later on today, so I can only say to you that it is the right thing to do, because I am the Vaccines Minister, that as we vaccinate more of the adult population, if there are new variants like the South African or the Brazilian variants, we need to be very careful.

"We acted on those very quickly and of course dealt with travel from those countries, and from Portugal and elsewhere, rapidly so it is important we continue to review our border policy and an announcement will be made when a decision has been taken.

"And of course the industry itself will be engaged with heavily, including (Health Secretary) Matt Hancock engaging with the industry to explain the decision making at health, as well as of course the business department with the Business Secretary."

Home Secretary Priti Patel declined to comment on "speculation" about quarantine hotels as she answered an urgent question in the Commons.

But she said the Government "will not hesitate to take further action" to protect the UK from new strains, and said "measures are always under review".

The PM said on Monday that the Government wants to "make sure we protect our population against re-infection from abroad".

Speaking on Monday, Mr Johnson said: "We are on target to hit out the ambition of vaccinating everybody in the most vulnerable groups by the middle of February.

"If we're going to make that effort, we want to make sure we protect our population against re-infection from abroad.

"That idea of hotels is certainly one thing we are actively working on. We need a solution that gives us the maximum possible protection."

  • Boris Johnson
  • Coronavirus
  • Lockdown

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