Sunday 6 June 2021 7:19 AM UTC
LONDON June 6: The UK government on Saturday said it is considering “options” around a planned end to lockdown on June 21 after the country recorded the highest number of daily COVID-19 cases in just over two months.
The UK recorded a further 6,238 coronavirus cases on Friday as England’s R number, or the rate of infection, continues to rise and the latest government numbers also show another 11 COVID-19 related deaths.
The Telegraph and the Financial Times reported on Saturday that civil servants were drawing up contingency plans to delay the easing lockdown restrictions by two weeks, possibly to 5 July.
“Of course officials are drawing up other options but we are still expecting to be in a place to go ahead on June 21,” a UK government functionary told ‘Sky News”.
Options under discussion are said to include retaining the wearing of face masks in certain settings and continuing the work from home, even as the hospitality sector opens up. However, the government maintains that there is “nothing in the data” to suggest ending lockdown should be delayed.
The number of COVID-19 cases in the country is now at its highest since March 25, when 6,397 were recorded, and the spike is largely down to the Delta variant or the highly transmissible B1.617.2 variant of concern (VOC) first detected in India.
UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that a rise of cases was to be expected as the country came out of lockdown.
“We always expected cases to rise as the country was opened up, the critical thing is the impact on the number of people who end up in hospital for any given number of cases,” said Hancock.
“That link has been broken by the vaccine, but it hasn’t been completely severed yet. That’s one of the things that we’re watching very carefully, and it’s too early to say what the decision will be ahead of June 21, but we’ll make sure people know in good time,” he said.
The National Health Service (NHS) said it has seen a huge jump in the number of people coming forward for a COVID-19 jab since launching its plan to tackle vaccine hesitancy. There has been an increase of more one-fifth among adults under 45 who would definitely get their vaccine according to a new study, which surveyed 16,610 people from a nationally representative sample. – PTI
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