UK Prime Minister expresses ‘serious concern’ over Delta variant, hinting at delay in ending lockdown
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday expressed “serious concern” over the rise in infections of the Delta variant of the coronavirus, reinforcing suggestions that he is set to delay the lifting of England’s latest lockdown restrictions .
Johnson is due to announce on Monday whether the planned lifting of restrictions, which would end limits on social contact, can continue on June 21, as set out in a planned “road map”.
The government had hoped that the success of one of the world’s fastest vaccine deployments would end limitations on indoor gatherings and the requirement for pubs and restaurants to provide table service only.
But the rapid spread of the Delta COVID-19 variant, first discovered in India, has put those plans at risk, meaning the government will delay lifting the restrictions by one month, the Daily Telegraph reported.
A four-week delay would push back the easing of restrictions until July 19.
Although Johnson said officials would continue to study the data before making a final decision, he was less optimistic about the situation than he was in late May.
“It is clear that the Indian variant is more transmissible and it is also true that cases are increasing and hospitalization levels are increasing,” Johnson told Sky News.
“Now we don’t know exactly how much of this will translate into additional mortality, but it is clearly a matter of great concern.”
Any delay in Johnson’s unlocking roadmap risks sparking a row with some politicians in his party, who have opposed maintaining the restrictions.
Karan Bilimoria, chairman of the Confederation of British Industry, said businesses understand the need to move forward with caution in a health crisis, but many companies in industries such as hospitality are barely breaking even. according to the current rules.
“If there is a complete delay of two to four weeks, then it must be irreversible: we cannot have a stop-start and as long as this is clarified, we will have to deal with this delay,” he said. -he declares.
Johnson tried to add some optimism by suggesting the government would not reimpose any restrictions, such as banning households from mingling indoors or closing reception areas.
The government has always said that decisions at every step of unlocking depend on the data.
Britain reported 7,738 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, down slightly from the previous day, when they were the highest since February.
When asked if he was less optimistic about easing the lockdown than at the end of May, he replied: “Yes, that is certainly right.”
Any decision Johnson makes only applies to England, as the decentralized governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland make most of the public health decisions in their countries.
Johnson said an increase in cases was still expected after the final stage of easing the lockdown in May, but the key to whether all coronavirus restrictions can be lifted will be the extent to which the UK vaccine rollout broke the link between cases and deaths.
Britain’s total death toll from COVID-19 is over 127,000, but the daily death toll has declined following a third nationwide lockdown and rapid vaccine rollout. More than three-quarters of adults have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
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