THERE are reports that more stringent new national lockdown measures are being considered by government ministers as the coronavirus infection rate continues to soar.

National newspapers have listed draconian measures such as further limits on exercise, compulsory mask-wearing outdoors and a ban on social bubbles as restrictions which are being considered.

A Whitehall source told the Mail Online that the changes discussed went so far as to include a "ban on people leaving their homes more than once a week".

The Argus: Health Secretary Matt HancockHealth Secretary Matt Hancock

Appearing on The Andrew Marr Show yesterday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock was asked whether the government was looking to tighten lockdown rules - with the BBC show's host also mentioning the possibility of curfews and closing nurseries.

Mr Hancock did not move to quash reports that these could soon be enforced across England.

He said: "I don't want to speculate because the most important message is not whether the government will further strengthen the rules.

"The most important thing is that people stay at home."

He said that if everybody followed this advice then "we should see the case rates start to come down".

And government insiders told the Financial Times yesterday Prime Minister Boris Johnson's "immediate priority was to enforce existing measures instead of introducing further restrictions".

Under current rules, face coverings are mandatory in many indoor areas such as train stations and shops.

Exercise outside the home is allowed "with one other person or with your household or support bubble".

"This should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area," the government rules state.

The Argus: The Covid-19 infection rate continues to soar across EnglandThe Covid-19 infection rate continues to soar across England

The latest daily update in the UK showed that 54,940 further cases were reported in the 24 hours leading up to 9am yesterday.

This takes the total to 3,072,349 confirmed cases since Covid-19 first hit the country.

And, in the 24 hours leading up to 5pm on Saturday, there were 563 deaths of people within 28 days of them testing pisitive for Covid-19, taking the UK figure to 81,431.