Government ‘absolutely open’ to delaying June 21 unlocking - Hancock

Government ‘absolutely open’ to delaying June 21 unlocking - Hancock

Britain's health secretary on Sunday said a coronavirus variant first detected in India was roughly 40 percent more transmissible than the so-called United Kingdom strain blamed for a severe COVID-19 outbreak over the winter.

Mr Hancock said critical to re-opening on 21 June is whether the four tests set by the government have been met: that vaccine deployment continues successfully; evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths; infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations; and that assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new "variants of concern".

Still, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said last week that nothing in the data suggested a reason to derail the plan to end the lockdown, while cautioning that he would move prudently on reopening.

"But crucially, after two doses of vaccine, we are confident that you get the same protection that you did with the old variant".

"Everybody must go and get their second jab though because the first isn't as effective on its own". If you think you have the virus, don't go to the GP or hospital, stay indoors and get advice online. Independent SAGE, a group of British scientists focused on providing guidance to the government, issued an "emergency statement" last week said stalling the existing plans to lift the last restrictions could help "avoid another full lockdown".

Ministers are "absolutely open" to delaying the June 21 unlocking in England if the Indian variant worsens the country's coronavirus recovery prospects, the Health Secretary has said.

He also suggested social distancing, wearing of face masks and working from home could be extended beyond the final stage of the government's "road map".

"And separately we have a piece of work on what the social distancing rules should be after that".

Meanwhile, there were 203,613 first vaccine doses administered on Saturday, taking the total to 40,333,231, and 473,378 more second jabs were given, taking that total to 27,661,353.

"If you are contacted to bring forward your second dose appointment, I would urge you to do this as soon as possible, as getting both doses is what will give everyone the maximum possible protection against COVID", said Dr Emily Lawson, NHS lead for the COVID-19 vaccination programme.

The Delta variant, which was first detected in India, is now the dominant strain in the United Kingdom, according to Public Health England figures. A mass vaccination campaign that started in December has given two doses of vaccine to more than half the adult population and brought new infections and deaths down sharply.

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