Matt Hancock has refused to rule out another national lockdown amid concerns the new variant coronavirus is spreading out of control.

With the latest data showing a 33% rise in the number of confirmed coronavirus patients in hospital in England between Christmas Day and January 2, he warned there would be “some very difficult weeks” to come.

Asked about the prospect of another national lockdown, he acknowledged that the current restrictions are insufficient to control the spread of the disease.

He told Sky News: “We don’t rule anything out, and we’ve shown repeatedly that we will look at the public health advice and we will take the public health advice in terms of what is needed to control the spread of the disease.

“This new variant is much easier to catch, it is much more transmissible, and we’re now seeing the effect of that in lots of different parts of the country, unfortunately.

“And it means that, whereas the old Tier 3 was able to contain the old variant, that is proving increasingly difficult in all parts of the country.”

Dorset Echo: (PA Graphics)(PA Graphics)

The Health Secretary also hinted at a potential new national lockdown when appearing on Good Morning Britain on Monday morning opposite hosts Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid.

Piers asked: "Surely given the rate of transmission, you're the Health Secretary, you’re looking at the same graphs as I am, you must share my horror about what is happening?

“Surely we know that the only truly effective blunt instrument at this stage is to do a national lockdown isn’t it? I don’t see any other way that you’re going to get a lid on this variant.”

Hancock replied: “It’s about not only the measures we put in place Piers, but it’s about how everybody responds to them.

“On Good Morning Britain, you have been unbelievably responsible in explaining to people how important it is because it’s on all of us.

“Ultimately, the reason this virus gets from one person to another is when you come into close physical proximity and that’s why just staying apart and staying at home, unless you have a very good reason not to, they are so important to control the virus.”

When pressed further on the need for clarity by Piers Morgan, Hancock replied: “We are prepared to take the sort of action (lockdown) if that is what's necessary.

"It's about not only the measures we put in place but how everybody responds to them.

"We're prepared to take the action that's necessary, and sometimes very rapidly.

"When we found out that this new coronavirus variant spreads so much faster, we moved within just over 24 hours to bring in the Tier 4.

“We look at this data all the time… We also look at how much of the new spread is the new variant because we know it’s so much easier to pass on, so we do look at this data daily.”