London: UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned that the coronavirus variant first detected in India can "spread like wildfire" among those who haven't received a vaccine against the disease, urging those who are eligible for vaccination to get both doses as soon as possible.
The variant is "becoming the dominant strain in some parts of the country" such as Bolton and Blackburn, Xinhua news agency quoted Hancock as saying to Sky News on Sunday. Public Health England (PHE) said cases of the variant known as B1617.2 in Britain have more than doubled to 1,313, up from 520 cases recorded by PHE last week.
From Monday, pubs, bars and restaurants in England will be permitted to open indoors, while indoor entertainment will also resume, including cinemas, museums and children's play areas.the planned easing of restrictions will last until June 21 when all legal limits on social interaction will be removed completely.
According to the latest official figures, more than 36.3 million people in Britain have been given the first jab of the coronavirus vaccine, but the British Medical Association has warned that key segments of the population remained unvaccinated. The Health Secretary described the current situation as "a race between the vaccination program and the virus", with the new variant having "given the virus some extra legs in that race".
"And so even with the protection that the vaccine gives you -- the vaccine protection is very high but it is not absolute."
As of Monday morning, the UK's overall Covid-19 caseload has spiked to 4,466,589, while the death toll stood at 127,941.