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Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Rise in Delta-variant Covid cases should ‘ring alarm’ over lockdown lifting


he rise in coronavirus cases across England with up to 96% of new cases estimated to be the Delta variant, should be ringing “alarm bells” ahead of lockdown being lifted, ministers are being warned.

The latest figures from Public Health England (PHE), published on Friday, show that 42,323 cases of the Delta variant first identified in India have been confirmed in the UK, up by 29,892 from last week.

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

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Coronavirus chairwoman Layla Moran said the figures should “set alarm bells ringing in Government”.

The Lib Dem MP added: “These figures should set alarm bells ringing in Government as we approach June 21.

“The Government must immediately explain to the public whether this exponential growth suggests the country is in line for a severe third wave, and if so what it is doing to prevent this.”

HEALTH Coronavirus Variant / PA Graphics

Meanwhile, Labour warned that the pace of the variant’s spread put the potential lifting of lockdown restrictions at risk.

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said: “The pace at which cases of the Delta variant continue to rise is deeply worrying and is putting the lifting of restrictions at risk.

The pace at which cases of the Delta variant continue to rise is deeply worrying and is putting the lifting of restrictions at risk

“The blame for this lies with the Prime Minister and his reckless refusal to act on Labour’s repeated warnings to secure our borders against Covid and its variants.”

However, Downing Street has defended its borders policy in relation to the Delta variant.

Asked whether Boris Johnson regretted not putting India on the red list of travel restrictions sooner the Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “I would point to the tough border measures that we’ve had in place for a fair amount of time now, that we’ve ensured that anybody arriving from India needed to quarantine at home, and then later as you said they were put on the red list which means that people have to quarantine in a hotel if they arrive in the UK from India.”

Their comments come after The Times reported ministers are considering a four-week delay to what some are calling “freedom day”, in order to give businesses certainty and allow more time for people to receive both vaccine doses.

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