As June 21 draws closer, the Prime Minister is expected to announce a delay of up to four weeks in the final easing of restrictions in England.
Boris Johnson has insisted that no decisions had been taken ahead of a formal announcement this Monday (June 14) but has made it clear that there had been a deterioration in the situation, with a surge in cases of the Delta variant – first detected in India – since the start of June.
He said: “It’s clear that the Indian variant is more transmissible and it’s also true that the cases are going up, and that the levels of hospitalisation are going up.
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“Now, we don’t know exactly to what extent that is going to feed through into extra mortality, but clearly it’s a matter of serious, serious concern.”
His comments come as experts warned the Government to be “cautious” about fully lifting lockdown measures in England on June 21 due to the rise in cases of the Delta variant.
Mr Johnson added: “What we want to do is make sure that the road map is irreversible, but you can’t have an irreversible road map unless you’re prepared to be cautious.
“Some of the data is still open to question, but we’ll be making an announcement on Monday.”
Scientists now estimate that 96% of all new cases of coronavirus are attributed to the Delta variant.
The last stage of the Government’s road map could now be delayed until July 19 after the latest figures from Public Health England show there have been 42,323 cases of the Delta variant confirmed in the UK, up by 29,892 from the previous week.
Professor Peter Openshaw, a member of the Nervtag advisory group said: “This Delta variant seems to be about 60% more transmissible than that [the Alpha variant].
“So it really has gone up another gear and that means that we really have to double down and not lose all the advantage that has been gained by the massive effort that has been put in so far.”
A formal announcement is due this coming Monday.