Boris Johnson to hold 5pm press conference amid concern over Indian Covid variant as cases confirmed in Derbyshire
Boris Johnson is to hold a press conference today, amid growing concerns over a surge of the Indian variant of Covid-19 in parts of Derbyshire and the north west of England.
The Prime Minister will be joined by Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer, at 5pm this evening and is expected to speak about the government’s plans to bring down infections, as calls are made for “surge vaccinations” in areas with the highest numbers of cases.
It comes as two coronavirus cases in Long Eaton were confirmed as ‘variants of concern’ – the new Indian variant and the South African variant that spread more easily.
The number of cases of the Indian variant in the UK has more than doubled in a week, with a virus expert warning earlier this week that the final stage of lockdown easing is “in doubt” following the surge.
Microbiologist Professor Paul Hunter told the BBC there could be a “huge number of cases by June” after a spike in cases of the new variant.
He said the UK may be able to “weather it” - but if cases and hospitalisations increase in the elderly and vulnerable, the planned June 21 date for step four of the Covid roadmap was “now in doubt.”
Four people have now died in the UK after becoming infected with the Indian variant, the first known deaths in this country.
The government has said there is “no firm evidence yet to show this variant has any greater impact on severity of disease or evades the vaccine”.
Today’s Downing Street briefing comes just three days before restrictions are due to ease under step three of the roadmap out of lockdown when pubs and restaurants will reopen for indoor services and families can hug once again.
He has renewed his call for residents and those employed in the area to get tested whether they have symptoms or not, with extra local testing in place to to allow for those who want to go to a testing centre rather than carry it out at home.