Too early to tell if English lockdown will end on June 21, says Hancock
Hounslow, London, which has become one of the UK’s biggest hotspots for the variant of the coronavirus first identified in India, on Thursday, May 27, 2021.
Tejas Sandhu | MI News | NurPhoto | Getty Images
UK Health Minister Matt Hancock said on Sunday it was too early to say whether the government would stick to its plan to completely lift the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in England on June 21.
Hancock said there had been a “very large” impact from the delta variant of COVID-19 first detected in India over the past month, which is now the dominant strain in England, according to official estimates.
He pointed to a further rise in COVID-19 cases, but said he was reassured by a broadly fixed rate of hospitalizations and deaths as officials considered ending the lockdown.
“It’s too early to make a final decision on this,” Hancock told Sky News.
“The Prime Minister, I and the team will be looking at all the data this week. We have said that we will give people enough time before the June 21 date.
“We are not saying ‘no’ to June 21 at this point,” he added.
Hancock said it was important for people to receive both doses of COVID-19 vaccines because data showed it could effectively protect against the delta variant.
The rapid rollout of the vaccine in Britain had weakened, but not broken, the link between the virus, hospitalization and death, Hancock said.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said last week he could see nothing in the data that would derail the plan to end the lockdown restrictions, although caution is needed.
Britain’s overall death toll from the pandemic stands at 127,836 and is the sixth highest in the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.