Putting rise of Indian variant cases into context as June 21 lockdown ending doubts grow: The Yorkshire Post says

With increasing question marks over whether the final stage of lockdown lifting will go ahead on June 21 after cases of the Indian variant of Covid-19 doubled in the past week and scientists split on if the roadmap should be delayed, the issue needs putting into careful context.

Members of the public queue to receive a Covid-19 vaccine at a temporary vaccination centre at the Essa academy in Bolton on May 17, 2021. (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

While there are understandable fears about infections rising with all too familiar pace, leading to a third wave of infections resulting in increased pressure on hospitals; currently that is not proving to be the case. The mass vaccination programme appears to be effectively cutting the link between rising case numbers being followed by mass hospitalisations and deaths.

In contrast to the peak of the crisis in January when there were almost 40,000 Covid patients in hospital, there are currently fewer than 1,000 Covid patients across the country - a figure that has remained relatively flat since dropping below four figures more than a fortnight ago.

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Importantly, this is a better position than even the best-case scenario that was projected by modellers when Boris Johnson announced the lockdown easing programme. No one is under any illusion that with the variant spreading, cases rising and millions still to be fully vaccinated that the situation could deteriorate in the coming weeks.

An electronic Covid-19 warning billboard drives around the streets in Blackburn as the Indian variant of coronavirus causes concern for health authorities on May 18, 2021. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

But the economic implications of not going ahead with lifting limits on social contact on June 21 must also be taken into account – Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality, warns one million jobs would be at risk without a further extension to Government support in the event of another delay. The uncertainty is particularly concerning in cities where the return of office workers is vital for supporting local shops and businesses.

The presumption should be in favour of following the road map dates unless the situation takes a drastic turn for the worse.

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