COVID-19: Local lockdowns and postponement of the next stage of the roadmap cannot be ruled out, warns Minister

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COVID-19: Local lockdowns and postponement of the next stage of the roadmap cannot be ruled out, warns Minister


Growing cases of the Indian variant of COVID could delay the easing of restrictions and force the government to impose local lockdowns, a minister has warned.

When asked if the proposed end of restrictions in England on June 21 might not go as planned, Environment Secretary George Eustice told Sky News: “We can’t rule anything out. “

He said imposing local lockdowns in areas where the population remains at risk while opening up the rest of the country is one of the options being considered.

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What the data tells us about the Indian variant

Mr Eustice said: “The Prime Minister said we would take this step at a time.

“Just yesterday we had a new round of easements… We have to see how that will come down over the next two to three weeks and then shortly before June 21 we will be able to assess whether we can move on to the next step. “

Asked whether the government is actively considering imposing local restrictions on areas that are still struggling after June 21, he added: “It would be an option.

“We can’t rule anything out, but our preferred outcome is to double and increase vaccination rates in areas that have these problems so that we can give them the immunity they need, and then we won’t have . to have such local locks. “

Monday, people across England were once again able to enjoy cuddles with loved ones, indoor pints and overseas vacations – but Boris Johnson called for a “heavy dose of caution”.

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Was India On The Red List Too Late?

Mr. Eustice’s comments come after Ministers have stepped up calls for people to get a COVID hit as soon as they are offered one amid fears about the spread of the Indian variant.

As the number of cases of India’s B.1.617.2 variant nearly doubled in one week to 2,323, Mr Hancock told the House of Commons on Monday that the majority of people admitted to Bolton hospital with her had been eligible for the jab but had not taken it back.

Sky scan revealed the worrisome variant of the Indian coronavirus appears to be spreading rapidly, with a 44% weekly increase in the number of zones in England recording a case.

The variant was detected in 127 local authorities during the week ending May 8 – up from 71 the week before, according to figures from the Wellcome Sanger Institute.

Bedford has the second highest coronavirus rate in England, with 214 new cases recorded in the seven days to May 13. He has 80 confirmed cases of the Indian variant.

The city’s director of public health Vicky Head said she was “really worried” about the increase in cases.

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An Indian variant “emphasizes the importance” of receiving the jab

“What we think now is that almost all of our cases are likely to be the India variant,” she told BBC Breakfast.

Labor has said it is wary of local lockdowns, due to the impact on places like Bolton and Blackburn, where towns have been under additional restrictions for much of the past year.

Labor shadow housing secretary Lucy Powell told Sky News: “We would be very reluctant and suspicious to go down the path of local lockdowns.

“They didn’t really work out the last time around, but they’ve become incredibly difficult and divisive for areas that were blocked out early on and poor old men Bolton and Blackburn have really been at the forefront of that l ‘last year.

“So… let’s get this wave of immunization, this peak testing capacity through very, very quickly in these areas. And I hope we can see some of it. “

Professor Gabriel Scally, a leading public health expert, told Sky News “we should throw out the kitchen sink on this point” in places like Bolton and Blackburn to reduce infection.

He said vaccination of younger age groups, extensive contact tracing and support for people to self-isolate were needed.

“On top of that, we need a lot of vigilance and information for the public to understand that the virus is not gone, it is still there and it can be much, much more contagious,” he said. he declared. .

“We must also stop its importation, which means better border controls, a proper quarantine system.

“We were very disappointed with the large number of imported cases from the UK of this dangerous variant which was first identified in India.

He said local public health directors had not “been given the power” to do their jobs and should be empowered to make decisions, including immunizing younger age groups.

The director of public health for Bedford, where there had been 80 confirmed cases of the variant, told BBC Breakfast on Tuesday that she was “really worried” about the spread of the Indian variant Covid-19 in the region.

Vicky Head said, “One of the really striking things about the variant is how transferable it is. If someone goes to school and tests positive, then we see their whole family testing positive. “

“I’m really worried about this. Everyone needs to understand how transmissible this variant is. ”

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