UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock has claimed that England and Scotland's approaches to the coronavirus lockdown have been "almost exactly the same", despite the vastly higher number of new cases reported daily south of the Border.

Hancock said he wanted to question the "narrative" that Scotland has been more cautious in its approach and asked people to "look at the substance of what’s happening".

Speaking on Sky's Ridge On Sunday, SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford stressed that the virus rate is less in Scotland than in England.

He said: “When we look at the evidence and you see the prevalence rate of the virus, it’s a fifth of the rate in Scotland that it is in England.

“I think that caution that we have had in Scotland has been rewarded by that improved performance.”

READ MORE: Covid-19: UK outbreak deadlier than Sage's worst-case scenario

Data suggests that the infection rate, the number of people each case is being passed onto, could now be as high as 1.1 in London, having risen from the previous estimate of between 0.6 and 0.9 while in the south west of England the R number has risen from between 0.6 and 0.9 to 0.7 and 1.

As of July 1, the Scottish Government believes the R number was “estimated to be between 0.6 and 0.8, as it has been for four weeks”.

Scots have been able to travel more than five miles for leisure purposes since Friday, apart from a cluster of communities in Dumfries in Galloway - while the restriction was lifted in England weeks ago.

The UK Health Secretary was pressed on the issue on the Andrew Marr Show and was quizzed over Scotland’s stricter lockdown approach compared to England.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Weekly deaths in Scotland drop below five-year average

Hancock said: “The truth about what’s happened in Scotland is that they have done almost exactly the same things as we’ve done in England at almost exactly the same time.

“We also track movements and the amount of movement that there is in Scotland, for example on the roads, did go down further, but then has come up and is now higher than in England.”

He added: “I just query the narrative that you and Nicola Sturgeon are setting there. Actually the whole UK went into lockdown essentially together and is coming out essentially together. The difference of a few days makes very little difference.

“I would look at the substance of what’s happening.”