Positive test findings showed today that the Indian Covid variant has been discovered in 40% of areas in England, as Boris Johnson desperately tried to play down rising fears that the June 21 ‘freedom day’ could be canceled due to the strain.
The Prime Minister emphasized that the government’s plan to exit lockdown remains unchanged, as it sifts through new information about the rapidly spreading strain.
However, he seemed to soften his tone by saying that there isn’t yet “conclusive” proof that the plan will need to be changed, and that things would be clearer in “a few days.”
‘We’re looking at the epidemiology as it comes in all the time, and at the present time, partly because we’ve built up such a wall of defenses with the vaccination program,’ he said, ‘I can not see anything definitive to say we need to deviate from the road map.’
But we must proceed with caution, and we are keeping a close eye on everything. In a few days, we’ll know a lot more.’
In the week leading up to May 8, samples from people infected with Covid indicated that the Indian variant was present in 127 out of 314 local areas in England, up from 71 the week before.
It has been found in 162 locations since its discovery, with Health Secretary Matt Hancock stating yesterday that there have been five or more cases in at least 86 locations.
The mutant strain had also become dominant in 23 parts of the country by last week, according to Wellcome Sanger Institute data, after cases nearly doubled in a week.
There have been 2,323 cases of the variant across the country, up from 520 just ten days ago, and it now accounts for at least one in every five new infections.