Hancock gives clearest sign yet June 21 could be delayed

Health Secretary Matt Hancock

"That means that it is more hard to manage this virus with the new Delta variant", Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News, referring to the Indian strain by its formal designation.

- The Delta variant of the coronavirus, first discovered in India, is estimated to be 40 percent more transmissible than the Alpha variant that caused the last wave of infections in the UK, Britain's health minister said Sunday.

Figures published by Public Health England show between one and four cases of the Delta variant were recorded in Portsmouth by June 2 - though they could not give an exact figure.

"This week we will be opening up vaccines to the under-30s and so we are getting a step closer to the point when we have been able to offer the vaccine to all adults in this country". But people who have received two doses of vaccine, should be equally protected against either variant, he added.

Ministers are "absolutely open" to delaying the unlocking in England, he said.

'If you are eligible and have not already done so, please come forward to be vaccinated and make sure you get your second jab. If you think you have the virus, don't go to the GP or hospital, stay indoors and get advice online.

Hancock: 'It took time to build the testing' for care homes
Michael Gove defended his department, the Cabinet Office, after it too was savaged as "terrifyingly shit" by Mr Cummings.

Matt Hancock, in what will be viewed as the clearest indication yet that the target date for lifting all restrictions could slip, stressed that June 21 was a "not before" date and that it was only "pencilled in" as the next step out of lockdown. One of the four critical tests set by the government for a reopening is that the assessment of the risk from the deadly virus is not fundamentally changed by new VOC.

"So the good news is that the vaccine still works just as effectively".

Three out of the four tests are now being met, with the risk assessment from the Delta VOC the only unknown factor ahead of June 14 when the government is expected to confirm whether the unlocking roadmap will stay on track for June 21.

It has been reported that revisions to the road map could see the Government backtrack on encouraging a return to the workplace, while social distancing in bars and restaurants is likely to remain, along with limits on audiences in theatres and cinemas.

The drive to roll out vaccines to every adult by the end of July is continuing at pace as the Health Secretary announced those aged under 30 will be invited to book for their first dose this week.

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