The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed that the final stage of easing lockdown restrictions in the United Kingdom will be delayed until July 19, 2021.
The delay comes amid rising cases of coronavirus infections due to the increase in the more transmissible COVID-19 Delta variant first identified in India, which scientists warn could trigger a third wave of infections in the country.
Johnson says he is confident that the delay will not be longer than four weeks.
“On travel abroad, I think that the most important thing is a follow up on the red amber green guidance, given that continually viewed that’s important. I wouldn’t want to give any more guidance than that at this stage opening up everything on the 19th July,” says Johnson.
He says, “I’m acutely aware that it is not just the nightclubs that cannot go ahead and the theatre and many other parts and sectors are still not able to open formally. There are many businesses that need to move beyond social distancing, many jobs where we need to be able to do things in the way that we were used to doing them and people are yearning to get back to that as I am, so I am determined to be able to do that. We want a road map that is irreversible and to achieve an irreversible road map we have to be cautious.”
We have faced a very difficult choice. We can simply keep going with all of Step 4 on 21 June even though there is a real possibility that the virus will outrun the vaccines and that thousands more deaths would ensue that could otherwise have been avoided. Or… 1/4
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) June 14, 2021
The World Health Organisation (WHO) revealed the new names for the COVID-19 variants 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.