Will the Indian variant cause another lockdown?

THE Government is aiming to push through the vaccinations programme faster than ever as more than two-thirds of UK adults have had the first dose of a Covid vaccine.

It comes as the Indian mutation that is now dominant in some areas of the UK, is up to 50 per cent more transmissible than the Kent variant.

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Will the Indian variant cause another lockdown?

Earlier this week Boris Johnson hinted he could delay lockdown lifting to battle the spread of the highly infectious Indian Covid variant.

He said he was optimistic he could ease restrictions on Monday as planned, and hoped to be able to continue with the June 21 freedoms. 

But he also refused to close down speculation that local lockdowns could return in virus hotbeds such as Bolton.   

The PM said: "It is a variant of concern, we are anxious about it.

"At the moment there is a very wide range of scientific opinion about what could happen.

"We want to make sure we take all the prudential, cautious steps now that we could take, so there are meetings going on today to consider exactly what we need to do.

"There is a range of things we could do, we are ruling nothing out."

What areas of the UK have the Indian variant?

In England, infections are spread across the country, but there are hotspots which are now receiving surge testing.

These are South Northamptonshire, Bolton, Blackburn with Darwen, and Bedford. 

Bolton has turned into a "ghost town" as locals are ruled by "total fear," fighting a spike in infections almost ten times higher than the UK average.

The army has been deployed to the streets – and worries that the town may be plunged back into the toughest of restrictions are growing.

Bolton currently has the highest rate of coronavirus infections in the country, with 657 new cases in the seven days to May 10 – the equivalent of 228.5 cases per 100,000 people.

The majority of these new cases are the B16172 variant, which was first identified in India.

In Scotland, it's feared B.1.617.2 has caused a spike in coronavirus infections in Glasgow.

First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford said officials "decided to hold back" on relaxing some lockdown restrictions due to concerns.

How many Indian variant cases are there in the UK?

PHE says there are 1,255 cases in England, 35 in Scotland, 11 in Wales and 12 in Northern Ireland.

The true numbers are likely higher because there is a lag period with detecting cases.

Experts have warned the Covid strain could cause 1,000 deaths a day.

What are the Indian variant symptoms?

There is no evidence that symptoms of B.1.617.2 are any different to the original ones, including a new, persistent cough, high temperature and loss of taste and smell.

Scientists also have no evidence at this point it cases more severe disease.

People who have received one or two doses of a vaccine have been warned they may show very little or zero symptoms as the jab appears to make infection more mild.

Cases are predominantly in younger people, public health officials say.

Those under the age of 38 are still waiting to be invited for their first dose.

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