Spread in COVID-19 Delta variant forces Britain to delay laxing restrictions

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce today that the end of COVID-19 restrictions will be delayed following concern about the rapid rise of infections of the Delta variant of the coronavirus.

Under a roadmap outlined by Johnson back in February, the government signalled all social restrictions imposed to control the spread of the disease would be lifted “no earlier” than the 21st of June, when pubs, clubs and other hospitality venues could fully reopen.

But, in recent weeks there has been a fast growth again in the number of new cases caused by the Delta variant, first discovered in India, which health officials believe to be 60 percent more transmissible than the previous dominant strain and scientists warn could trigger a third wave of infections.

Coronavirus variants with clunky, alphanumeric names have now been assigned the letters of the Greek Alphabet in a bid to simplify discussion and pronunciation while avoiding stigma.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) revealed the new names on Monday amid criticism that those given by scientists such as the variant that was first detected in South Africa, which goes by multiple names including B.1.351, 501Y.V2 and 20H/501Y.V2, were too complicated.

As such, the four coronavirus variants considered of concern by the United Nations (UN) agency have now been given the letters Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta according to the order of their detection. The affected variants were first detected in the United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil and India.

Other variants of interest continue down the alphabet.