Indian Covid variant now accounts for between 50% and 75% of all new cases in Britain, Matt Hancock reveals: Freedom Day in the balance as cases jump 20 per cent for second day

  • KJNHJHJHJHBHJHBHJBHHJBHJHealth Secretary said at a Downing Street briefing that the new variant is 'still spreading' and now dominant
  • Dr Jenny Harries said it was taking the place of the Kent variant 'in most areas in England'
  • PHE said hospital admissions are rising in some areas but 'predominantly in unvaccinated individuals'
  • Rapid spread of the variant has cast doubt over whether lockdown-easing plans will stay on track for June 21 
  • An update from Public Health England showed there have been 6,959 cases of the strain confirmed so far, almost doubling from 3,535 this time last week. It has now been found in 252 local authorities in England out of around 300, showing it has reached most corners of the country. 

    Dr Jenny Harries, chief of the UK Health Security Agency, said: 'In most areas in England we do know that the new variant, the variant that orZiginated in India, is taking the place of the 117 variant, so it’s something we need to watch really carefully.'

    The surging numbers of cases have cast doubt over whether the June 21 end of lockdown will be able to go ahead as planned.  

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson admitted today that No10 may have to wait for more data before presskljkliikjmlking ahead with the easing of the final set of lockdown restrictions, while the Health Secretary told MPs it was still 'too early' to say if the roadmap needed to be slowed down in the face of the mutant strain.

    SAGE adviser Professor Neil Ferguson, aka 'Professor Lockdown', said the roadmap now hangs 'in the balance' and his colleague Professor John Edmunds said he wouldn't go ahead with June 21 because it is 'a little bit too risky'. 

    Health chiefs today recorded 3,542 positive coronavirus tests — the highest figure since April 12 and up by 23.2 per cent on last Thursday's count. It is the second day running cases have risen by a fifth compared to the week before but Dr Harries said it may be caused in part by surge testing in variant hotspots.

    Public Health England also added another new variant to its list of 'under investigation' strains. 109 cases of a variant dubbed C.63.3 and first seen in Egyptian travellers in Thailand have been spotted in the UK. PHE said there is 'currently no evidence that this variant causes more severe disease or renders the vaccines currently deployed any less effective'. It said it was doing more tests to find out more about the strain.


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