March 30, 2023

UK Covid live news: minister says four-week delay in England lockdown easing could let extra 10m people get second jab

Latest updates: Edward Argar, health minister, says second doses would increase people’s protection against the...

Latest updates: Edward Argar, health minister, says second doses would increase people’s protection against the Delta variant

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2.20pm BST

Sir Charles Walker, a vice chairman of the Conservative backbench 1922 Committee and one of the Tory MPs most opposed to the government’s lockdown policy, told Radio 4’s The World at One that he was worried that the PM’s decision to postpone the further relaxation of restrictions for England meant that the country would start going backwards, and that later this year rules would tighten again. He explained:

I just have an overwhelming sense of pessimism now that, if you can’t lift restrictions at the height of summer, then you are almost certainly looking at these restrictions persisting and tightening into the autumn and winter … I’m afraid this is one-way traffic towards further lockdowns.

There are huge strains that this is putting on many people. Many people’s mental health, it’s leading to an epidemic of eating disorders, we have many young people chained to their small bedrooms and kitchens, so the new dark satanic mills are now people’s flats …

The government made the argument that we have to live with Covid-19. Existing is not living. I’m asking the government to explain to me and the millions of people who are facing losing their jobs … to explain what living looks like.

1.40pm BST

The Delta coronavirus variant is continuing to spread across England, with new hotspots cropping up around the country, data has revealed.

Data from the Wellcome Sanger Institute, which tracks the variants detected in Covid-positive samples through genome sequencing, has revealed high numbers of samples containing the variant in Birmingham and Leicester – as well as large areas in the north-west, where the early hotspots emerged.

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