(File photo) UK PM Boris Johnson Photograph:( AFP )
As per reports, the government may announce a delay of up to four weeks
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday gave his strongest hint till now that lifting of all coronavirus restrictions would be delayed. Concerns over spread of the new variant is causing the delay.
The Delta variant has caused a surge in Covid cases in Britain, throwing into doubt government plans to ease curbs from June 21.
Johnson said that the spread was a matter of "serious, serious concern". He was speaking on the sidelines of G7 leaders' summit in England.
As per reports, the government may announce a delay of up to four weeks.
Asked if he was less optimistic than he was at the end of May that restrictions could be eased as planned, a downbeat Johnson responded: "Yes, that's certainly fair."
He added that while some data was "still open to question", a formal announcement would come on Monday.
On Friday, the government said the Delta variant was 60 percent more transmissible in households than the variant that forced the country into its last complete lockdown in January.
The research from Public Health England also showed there had been 42,323 identified cases of the Delta variant in the UK, according to data -- up from 29,892 on June 2.
The Alpha variant, first identified in Kent, southeast England, drove a huge surge of Covid cases in January, and hit early in Britain's mass vaccination campaign.
It caused a wave of Covid cases that stretched the state-run National Health Service (NHS) close to breaking point.
Johnson said the current situation was "dramatically different from what it was in either of the first two waves of the pandemic" because of what he called the "effectiveness of the vaccine rollout".
Faced with the Delta variant, the UK has stepped up its vaccine programme, and has now administered nearly 71 million jabs, with over 40 percent of the total population fully vaccinated.
(With inputs from agencies)