Matt Hancock has warned lockdown could return in winter as seasonal pressures add to the worry of a rise in coronavirus cases.

The Health Secretary warned the NHS could struggle to deal with the demand of flu season and other pressures that come in winter amid a rise of Covid-19 cases in the UK.

Mr Hancock was asked whether further lockdowns are a possibility when he appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

He said: “I hope we don’t have to do that.

We are worried about flu this winter because people's natural immunity will be lower because we haven't had any serious flu for 18 months now," he told Times Radio.

"We had a difficult winter in 2019, we didn't have flu at all really this last winter because of the restrictions that were in place for Covid, so it is something we are worried about.

"We are going to have a very significant flu vaccination drive this autumn - potentially at the same time, you might get your Covid booster jab and your flu jab at the same time, we are testing whether that can be done.

"We do need to make sure we protect the NHS this coming winter.

"We have got time to do the preparation for that now, though, and make sure we are as vaccinated as possible, because that is the way to keep people safe."

He explained the importance of the flu vaccination programme ahead of the winter months.

"Almost nobody has had flu now for 18 months in this country, obviously that's a good thing, but it does mean that the flu vaccination programme this autumn will be even more important," he said.

"Last year was the biggest ever because we wanted to protect against flu whilst we were in the grips of the Covid crisis.

"We are currently doing the work to see whether you can have the Covid booster shot and the flu jab at the same time and that will help to manage this this winter, but we do expect this winter to be challenging."

The warning comes after Boris Johnson provided an update when speaking to reporters during a visit to a laboratory in Hertfordshire.

He said: “You can never exclude that there will be some new disease, some new horror that we simply haven’t budgeted for, or accounted for.

“But looking at where we are, looking at the efficacy of the vaccines against all variants that we can currently see – so Alpha, Delta, the lot of them, Kappa – I think it’s looking good for July 19 to be that terminus point.

“I think what the scientists are saying is that things like flu will come back this winter, we may have a rough winter for all sorts of reasons, and obviously there are big pressures on the NHS.

“All the more reason to reduce the number of Covid cases now, give the NHS the breathing space it needs to get on with dealing with all those other pressures, and we are certainly going to be putting in the investment to make sure that they can.”