Speaking from Downing Street today, Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed lockdown restrictions will ease yet further on May 17 as planned, meaning indoor socialisation can take place, with social contact permitted. The Government is closely monitoring Covid data across the UK, with specific tests in place to allow for the unlocking of the country going forward.
These four tests include the number of people with COVID-19 in the UK, hospitalisations and deaths from the virus, vaccination rate and variants of concern in the UK.
In a series of slides, Professor Chris Whitty outlined each of the tests and the data the Government currently has.
Among this was the number of coronavirus strains in the UK.
The slides showed there were five variants of coronavirus currently in the UK, with the Kent variant the most prolific.
Speaking about coronavirus variants, Professor Whitty said the variant first detected in India is one “we need to keep quite a close eye on”.
He said: “This is actually spreading from very small amounts but it is beginning to spread in certain parts of the country and we need to keep quite a close eye on this.
“So the point about this is: the threats are significantly reduced but there are still some residual issues that we need to keep a very close eye on and therefore we need to go carefully and steadily, as the Prime Minister has said.”
The Indian variant is “of concern” Public Health England has said, with most recent cases found in London and the North West of England.
Variants in the UK
B.1.1.7 (Kent, UK) – 233,430 cases
B.1.351 (South Africa) – 782 cases
P1 (Japan ex Manaus, Brazil) – 94 cases
B.1.1.7 with E484K (Bristol, UK) – 43 cases
B.1.617.2 (India) – 520 cases
The chart also showed the change since April 28, with the Kent variant and Indian variant both increasing significantly over the past week.
The Kent variant had seen numbers grow by 6,795 since April 18, while the Indian variant had grown by 318 cases in the same time frame.