London, May 14 (KMS)): British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has admitted that his government is anxious about the coronavirus variant first identified in India, as the number of UK cases of the strain more than doubled in a week.
The UK government’s scientific advisers held a meeting on Thursday to discuss the variant amid growing concerns it could jeopardize England’s plan to lift all legal limits on social contact from June 21.
Boris Johnson said that he remained “cautiously optimistic” about England’s plan to drop restrictions but that his government was “ruling nothing out.”
The variant, known as B.1.617, appears to be fueling a crippling second Covid-19 wave in India and has now spread to more than 40 countries, according to the World Health Organization. The WHO declared B.1.617 a “variant of concern” this week and said some evidence suggests it may be more transmissible than other strains.
The UK has reported more cases of B.1.617 and its sublineages than any other country outside India, according to the WHO.
On Thursday, Public Health England said cases of the variant had increased from 520 to 1,313 in the past week.
England enters phase two of its plan to lift restrictions on Monday, under which indoor dining will re-open.
UK minister James Cleverly in an interview said the government is waiting to take decisions “based on the data and the evidence” provided by the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE). “The Prime Minister, the Health Secretary has always been clear that the easing of restrictions which allow us to get back to normality will be done at a pace and in a way which is safe, and we will always be driven by the data,” he said.