The government is acting “coolly” and “calmly” to tackle the coronavirus variant first found in India as social distancing measures are further eased on Monday, the health minister Edward Argar has said.
At a press conference on Friday, Boris Johnson said he would press ahead with allowing indoor gatherings of six people or two households in England from next week, though the final stage of lifting restrictions in June could face “serious disruption”.
His comments came amid warnings from scientists that the new variant of concern first detected in India, B.1.617.2, could lead to a “significant” surge in infections, and could be up to 50% more transmissible than the variant first detected in Kent.
“As Chris Whitty said yesterday, it’s possible [it could be more transmissible], but equally it could be much less more transmissible, if that makes sense,” Argar told BBC Breakfast on Saturday.
“We don’t know how much more transmissible it is yet. All the evidence so far suggests there is no evidence of increased severity of illness or that it evades the vaccine.
“So, at the moment, on the basis of the evidence we are doing the right thing, coolly, calmly continuing with Monday, but keeping everything under review.”