"Because the infection rates are going up, what is the indication to make masks and social distancing mandatory?" Professor Jonathan Van-Tam

JVT's answer is short and to the point - he says whether mask wearing is mandated in law is a matter for ministers, and not for scientists.

Jonathan Van Tam warned this morning that people should not assume the pandemic was over, or let their guard down.

He said there were "some hard months to come" and urged caution, particularly when meeting other people, and the wearing of face coverings in appropriate places.

He was clear that vaccinating young children from the age of five is not a priority in the UK - unlike in the US. Instead, boosters and first doses for the five million unvaccinated are much more important.

But it's not just Covid he's worried about.

Flu and other winter respiratory viruses are returning this season after a complete absence last year when no one was mixing - and anything we can do to protect against Covid will protect against them too.

But Prof Van Tam was upbeat too - by the spring he forecast "calmer waters" and, using one of his much-loved football analogies, he said the country was now at half-time in extra time.

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