Some 3383 new cases of coronavirus were recorded yesterday, an increase of 28.8 per cent over the past seven days, although the number of deaths at just one recorded remained consistent with totals seen over recent weeks.
As the Indian variant continues to spread, Professor Ravi Gupta, a member of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), warned that vaccinations may be offering a “false sense of security” to the public.
The University of Cambridge academic said there had been an “exponential growth” in the number of cases, fuelled by the more transmissible Indian variant, but that the “explosive” impact it could have was currently being masked by the high vaccination rate.
There was no announcement from the Government yesterday about the June 21 unlocking date, although a Minister has said nothing will now be ruled out in terms of a potential delay in a signal shift from previous weeks.
Environment Minister George Eustice said yesterday that a final decision would be made in a fortnight’s time on June 14, after examining the relevant data.
The Prime Minister previously signalled when launching his “roadmap” that all legal restrictions would be lifted on June 21, allowing mass gatherings and large scale events to go ahead in formats not seen since before the pandemic took hold.
A York MP yesterday implored Boris Johnson to “hold his nerve” and go ahead with the unlocking date.
Julian Sturdy, the Conservative MP for York Outer, said: “We have to hold our nerve on this and stick to the plan in the roadmap.
“We’ve got an amazing vaccination programme, all the data and evidence so far show it is holding firm against the new variant.
“We will see new variants coming, there’ll be other new variants and we will obviously have to assess them but the key thing now is being able to live with the virus going forward.”
And North Yorkshire County Council leader Carl Les warned against the return of local restrictions to areas such as Kirklees which have higher case rates.
He said: “It’s very easy to have a spike and if we go to local arrangements, how do you police them? I’d prefer a national procedure that everybody understands.”
Since May 17, two households or a maximum of six people from multiple households have been permitted to socialise indoors, including in pubs and restaurants.
Some 25,537,133 people have now had both doses of a coronavirus vaccine, 48.5 per cent of the adult population with 120,243 first doses given yesterday.
Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis has said the Government must make an urgent decision on whether the June 21 unlocking can take place.
He said: “If there’s any indication the date needs to be moved back, the Government need to get on and make a decision about that as soon as possible.
“Given everything that’s gone on, we need to make sure we give people and businesses the certainty of what might be happening.#
“Businesses should be financially supported, particularly any losses they might make.”
He said he would not be opposed to delaying the date, imploring the Government to not “squander away” its progress.