Boris Johnson has admitted today that they are “anxious” over the new Indian variant which is sweeping across the UK.
The Prime Minister said the government are “ruling nothing out,” but England’s roadmap out of lockdown is still on track despite the Indian variant having tripled in a week.
Johnson was asked if local lockdowns were possible, he said, “There are a range of things we could do, we want to make sure we grip it.
“Obviously there’s surge testing, there’s surge tracing.”
Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown is now at serious threat as the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) are concerned over the rapid rise of the Indian variant spreading throughout the UK.
Scientists who advise the government are holding an emergency meeting today as there has been in a rapid rise in the UK of the deadly Indian variant.
Last week there was 520 cases of the new variant which has now increased to 1,723 confirmed cases, COG-UK scientists said.
Professor Christina Pagel, director of the clinical operational research unit at University College London and a member of the Independent Sage group of experts, are urging Johnson that the emergence of the Indian variant means next week’s planned relaxation of measures must be pushed back.
Professor Pagel warned in a series of tweets that the test for Johnson’s roadmap for England to come out of lockdown has not been met.
The test states, “The assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new variants of concern.”
The Sage scientist has warned that if Johnson continues to go ahead with the planned easing on Monday, then this could “add fuel to the fire.”
She further warned the Indian variant’s spread and risks “more uncertainty, more damaging closures and longer recovery from a worse situation.”
Professor James Naismith, Director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute warned that the Indian variant cannot be contained to “local restrictions” and the government must now “view it as a country-wide problem.”
Speaking to Radio 4’s Today programme, Professor Naismith warned, “It will get everywhere, we keep learning this lesson, we know this will be the case.
“If it is fit, and we don’t know that to be the case, and if it spreads quickly, it will spread way beyond its local area.”
Ahead of the emergency meeting today, a member of Sage told The i newspaper, Johnson’s final step on 21 June could be pushed back and a “delay is possible.”
During a Downing Street daily briefing, Johnson’s spokesman was asked if the government are considering surge vaccinations along with surge testing in areas with the new Indian variant.
The spokesman said that government officials will not “rule anything out.”
He added, “We want to consider all options.
“The prime minister said earlier today we’re not going to rule anything out, we want to make sure that we keep the public safe and keep our road map on track.”
“The meeting is happening with Sage today and should they come out with any further updates on this variant originating in India and the epidemiology in the UK then we will consider it.”
Despite the serious concerns over the Indian variant Johnson said he “can see nothing that dissuades me from thinking we’ll be able to go ahead [easing lockdown restrictions as planned] on Monday and indeed on 21 June everywhere.”
Covid patients in India are being diagnosed with Mucormycosis which is also known as a “black fungus” which has been found in people who have recovered.