‘Less optimistic’ Boris Johnson hints he will delay 21 June ‘Matter of serious concern’

Boris Johnson says coronavirus surge is a 'serious concern'

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke to Sky News’ Beth Rigby about the prospect of ending Covid restrictions on June 21. He admitted that he was less optimistic about this possibility. He noted that the Indian variant was of serious concern as it was more transmissible.

He also added that the Government still intended to follow their irreversible road map out of lockdown but it was important to be cautious.

Mr Johnson said: “It is clear that the Indian variant is more transmissible.

“It is also true that cases are going up and the levels of hospitalisation is going up.

“We don’t exactly to what extent that is going to feed through into extra mortality.

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“But clearly it is a matter of serious concern.”

Ms Rigby argued the Prime Minister is less optimistic than he was at the end of May.

He replied: “That is fair, what we want to do is make sure that the roadmap is irreversible.

“But you can’t have an irreversible unless you are prepared to be cautious.”

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Virologists and epidemiologists have warned the Government against relaxing restrictions too quickly.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, virologist Dr Chris Smith noted a surge in the Indian variant has worked in Covid’s favour.

He said: “If the R-Number is greater than one, then you are increasing the scale of the outbreak.

“1 is the critical number, if it is less than 1 then the outbreak is going away, it is shrinking.

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“So the fact that we have seen an uptick above 1 argues that the seesaw has tipped and it has tipped away from being in our favour to being in coronaviruses favour of a bigger outbreak.

“It doesn’t mean we have instantly got big numbers but it means if we carry on that way we will see numbers increasing.

“And what the government will be considering is come June 21, if we carry on at the trajectory of growth of the outbreak we are at, we will have 15-20,000 cases per day.”

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