LONDON, Nov. 30 (Xinhua) -- British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Monday that coronavirus is "back under control" in Britain as the month-long national lockdown is due to end on Wednesday.
"We've got this virus back under control," he said during a virtual press briefing at the Downing Street.
According to the latest official figures, Britain'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, which is the second of its kind since the COVID-19 outbreak in the country and due to end on Dec. 2, brought coronavirus under control in England. It means people could have greater freedoms in tiers from Wednesday, he said.
However, Hancock 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 Monday, British 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," he said.
"The tiering system is tough, but it's designed to be tough and to keep it under control," he said.
Another 12,330 people in Britain have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to 1,629,657, according to official figures released Monday.
The coronavirus-related deaths in Britain rose by 205 to 58,448, the data showed.
To bring life back to normal, countries such as Britain, China, Germany, Russia and the United States are racing against time to develop coronavirus vaccines.