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Johnson to postpone lifting of Covid lockdown to July

B

oris Johnson appears ready to delay the final lifting of coronavirus lockdown restrictions in England after another sharp rise in cases of the Delta variant.

Ministers plan to postpone the easing of controls scheduled for June 21 for up to four weeks as they rush to roll out the vaccine to younger age groups.

A final decision is expected to be made on Sunday before an official announcement by the prime minister at a press conference the next day.

Health Coronavirus Figures / PA Graphics

It comes amid repeated warnings from some scientists that the rapid spread of the Delta variant first identified in India could lead to a “substantial” third wave if controls are lifted.

Leading physicians from the British Medical Association (BMA) on Friday joined calls for the final lift to be put on hold to allow millions more to get protection from the vaccine.

BMA Chairman of the Board, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, said: “With only 54.2% of the adult population currently fully vaccinated and many young people not yet eligible, there is a huge risk that a premature release of all the restrictions will undo the excellent work of the immunization program and lead to a wave of infections.

“It is not only the number of hospitalizations, but also the risk to the health of a large number of young people, who may suffer from long-term symptoms affecting their lives and their ability to work.”

However, a delay – potentially until July 19 – will be a blow to many companies, especially in the hospitality and leisure sectors, which were basing their hopes on a full summer reopening to help recoup some of the costs. losses from last year.

Labor Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said the country was now paying the price for ministers’ refusal to heed warnings from its own science advisory group for emergencies (Sage).

“Any delay in rescinding the restrictions would be a blow to many families and businesses across the country. The fault lies with the Conservative ministers, ”he said.

“Despite warnings from Labor, Sage and others, they continued a reckless border policy which allowed the Delta variant to reach the UK and spread.

“Now the British people seem ready to pay the price. “

Health Coronavirus Figures / PA Graphics

Scientists now estimate that 96% of all new coronavirus cases are attributed to the Delta variant.

The latest figures from Public Health England (PHE) showed there were 42,323 confirmed cases of the Delta variant in the UK, up 29,892 from the previous week.

He estimates the strain is 60% more transmissible compared to the previously dominant Alpha, or Kent, variant, and cases are doubling every four and a half days in parts of England.

Meanwhile, South London’s Merton Council said it was stepping up targeted surge testing in two areas – including an industrial area in New Malden – where there have been recent outbreaks.

Further testing is also underway in Staffordshire and at Northwich and Winsford in Cheshire.

The setback comes as the key figures behind the successful vaccination program have been recognized in the Queen’s Birthday Honors List.

They include the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine mastermind, Professor Sarah Gilbert and ex-chair of the UK Vaccine Task Force Kate Bingham, both of whom are recognized as ladies.


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