Boris Johnson will stick to 'slow and steady' lockdown roadmap amid concerns over Indian variant, Cabinet minister saysApril 26, 2021
BORIS Johnson will stick to the "slow and steady" lockdown roadmap amid concerns over the Indian variant of Covid, a Cabinet minister has said.
Defence secretary Ben Wallace insisted the PM is right to take a cautious approach given the seriousness of the pandemic situation elsewhere.
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And he said the runaway success of our vaccination programme doesn't mean the UK can "chuck it all in" and end social distancing.
His remarks come after repeated calls from backbench Tory MPs for No 10 to speed up the end of lockdown.
They say the lightning jabs rollout, which has seen cases fall to their lowest level since last March, means restrictions can be eased quicker.
But Mr Wallace said concerns over the Indian variant means the Government must remain cautious.
He said: "We're watching with concern, but we're not yet in a place where we've made a view of exactly how damaging or not it might be to our own outbreak here.
"The key here is this reminds all of us why it's important to have a slow and steady roadmap out of the pandemic and why we should take each step as they come, not rush forward or come back.
"There's some really good news out there, which is that 62% of all adults are now vaccinated in the United Kingdom – over half the adult population.
"And people up to 44 years of age will now be offered the vaccine, that's good news.
"But that doesn't mean to say we chuck it all in and rush headlong for the door.
"That's why going forward steadily, getting the injections done, but at the same time just remembering what's going on in the rest of the world.
"You don't have to go very far, into Europe, to see what happens when things get out of kilter."
His remarks come after it emerged UK daily Covid cases have halved in a month with 1,712 new infections and 11 deaths reported yesterday.
This time a month ago there were 3,862 new cases in the same time period as the UK's Covid vaccination blitz continues.
Yesterday's figures mean there has been 4,404,882 total cases in the UK since the pandemic began, as well as 127,428 deaths.
This time last week there were 1,882 new cases and 10 deaths recorded, while two weeks ago there were 1,730 cases and seven new deaths.
Four weeks ago on Sunday there were 3,862 new cases and 19 deaths.
Covid statistics are usually lower on Sundays due to a lag in reporting.
Scotland and Wales have already sped up their roadmaps out of lockdown in response to the better than hoped for figures.
And an influential group of Tory MPs want England to quickly follow suit.
Steve Baker, deputy chairman of the Covid research group, said: "The NHS has done a brilliant job at vaccinating groups that are vulnerable to Covid.
"Those accounting for around 99% of deaths and around 80% of hospital admissions have now received protection.
"On that basis we should be opening up society and relaxing these devastating restrictions, lockdowns and regulations."
It comes as Brits in their thirties are reportedly set to be offered their Covid jabs within days.
The NHS will reportedly start inviting thirty-somethings for the vaccine by the end of next week, after securing 40million Pfizer doses for the UK.
Officials are also close to finalising a deal to purchase tens of millions more doses of the Pfizer vaccine in time for a third booster dose to be given to the elderly this autumn.
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