March 31, 2023

UK Covid news: Johnson refuses to rule out using local lockdowns to deal with possible surges of Indian variant

Latest updates: Boris Johnson has suggested the government is considering a range of measures to...

Latest updates: Boris Johnson has suggested the government is considering a range of measures to deal with the variant first discovered in India

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1.02pm BST

At the No 10 lobby briefing the prime minister’s spokesman was also asked if the government was considering using surge vaccination programmes to deal with local Covid spikes. The spokesman replied:

We want to consider all options. As the PM said earlier, today we are not going to rule anything out. We want to make sure that we keep the public safe and keep out roadmap on track.

The meeting is happening with Sage today. Should they come up with any further update on this variant emerging in India, and the epidemiology in the UK, then we will consider it.

12.55pm BST

At the Downing Street lobby briefing the prime minister’s spokesman when further than the prime minister did in his interview earlier (see 12.34pm) in playing down the prospect of a return to local lockdowns in response to surges of the Indian variant.

The spokesman said there was nothing in the data currently to suggest the government would have to move away from the plans in the roadmap (which envisages the full lifting of restrictions in England from 21 June).

We have set out what we want to do on the road map, moving together as a nation on this, and that has been very successful so far.

So there are no plans to reintroduce tiering measures. Like I say we have got a raft of measures available to us which are already in place, with regards local testing, surge testing and tracing.

Where a dangerous variant of concern is identified and is likely to pose a real risk to the vaccination programme or public health, the government will take a highly precautionary approach, acting fast to address outbreaks. The government is developing an enhanced toolkit of measures to address variants of concern, including surge PCR testing, enhanced contact tracing, communications and targeted enforcement

The government cannot rule out reimposing economic and social restrictions at a local or regional level if evidence suggests they are necessary to contain or suppress a variant which escapes the vaccine.

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