Indian Covid strain could threaten lifting of measures on June 21, MP warns
- Credit: Charlotte Bond
A Suffolk MP has urged eligible people to get the Covid vaccine and warned the Indian variant will "almost inevitably" become the dominant strain of the virus in the UK.
One case of the variant - known as B.1.617.2 and first discovered in India - has so far been identified in Suffolk and is being "closely" monitored by the county council's public health team.
The government's SAGE scientists believe the Indian variant could be up to 50% more transmissible than the UK strain responsible for the winter wave of cases.
But Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said there is currently no “conclusive” evidence to deviate from the roadmap out of lockdown, despite concerns over the variant.
He added: "We’ve got to be cautious and we are keeping everything under very close observation.
"We’ll know a lot more in a few days’ time."
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said the Covid vaccines being used in the UK are effective against the new strain.
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The government's final step on the route out of restrictions is to lift all legal limits on social contact on June 21.
However, Dr Dan Poulter, MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, believes this date will be pushed back - with rules on face masks and social distancing likely to continue throughout the summer.
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Dr Poulter said it is almost certain that the Indian strain will arrive in Suffolk and urged people to take up vaccines if offered.
He said vaccines are the "only way" out of the restrictions.
Dr Poulter said: "The Indian variant will, almost inevitably, become the dominant strain, given what we know so far.
"The key to this is getting as many people vaccinated - it will be the best thing we can do to protect everyone.
"I would expect the plan of lifting all restrictions on June 21 will now be pushed back. The main concern is that this variant is more transmissible and will undoubtedly become the dominant strain.
"We are going to have to be a little bit more careful in opening up.
"People in Suffolk have worked within the rules and protected the vulnerable in our community.
"Now is about common sense and, above all else, getting people vaccinated. It is the only way to leave restrictions."