The final stage of England’s lockdown exit plan on 21 June is likely to be delayed by up to four weeks amid a surge in the Delta (Indian) variant of covid -19.
Government sources say the prime minister will address the public on Monday after meeting with senior ministers over the weekend after 8,125 new covid cases were reported in the UK over the past 24 hours.
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The latest figures mark the highest daily rise since February 26.
RT reports: The UK’s virus reproduction rate – or R number – has also increased from 1.2 to 1.4, the Department of Health has said, meaning that every 10 people with Covid-19 pass it on to between 12 and 14 others.
As of Friday, vaccination data shows that 29.1 million people in the UK have received both doses, while 41 million have received a single dose.
The latest case figures come as medical experts called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to delay the government’s planned lifting of the last remaining public health restrictions on June 21.
The chair of the British Medical Association Council, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, said that, with only 54.2% of adults fully vaccinated, lifting all restrictions would be “premature” and lead to a rise in infections.
Data shows that removing all health measures in 10 days’ time would not meet the government’s own tests, he said, adding that it was vital Johnson “honours his own commitment to the population on how to safeguard the health of the nation.”
The vice-president of the Association of Directors of Public Health, Jim McManus, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that abandoning the restrictions could lead to an increase in infections and thereby a “a rise in hospitalisations”.
The government has said it will share the new data on Monday, when it is expected to make a decision as to when it will lift the final restrictions.
UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock previously warned that the Delta variant first detected in India is fuelling the rise in cases. The strain, which is up to 60% more transmissible than the UK’s Alpha variant, now accounts for 91% of all new cases, Hancock said on Thursday.
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