Indian variant: Government 'concern' at speed of growth

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Local and regional restrictions to tackle the Indian Covid variant can not be ruled out, the government has said, as it expressed concern over the speed of the variant's spread in England.

The variant appears to be transmitted more easily but does not result on greater severity of illness or appear to circumvent vaccine immunity.

The UK Prime Minister revealed there are now "860 or so" cases in England of the VOC detected in India, "but there may be more" as the variant "may be considerably more transmissible".

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Surge testing is already taking place in 15 areas across England, including Bolton, Blackburn, London, Sefton and Nottingham.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is "anxious" about the spread of the so-called Indian variant in the country, he said on Thursday.

Asked on BBC Breakfast what is stopping vaccines being given to younger age groups in affected areas now, Mr Zahawi said it takes three weeks to build protection from a first dose and to have any effect on transmission of the virus.

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But Mr Johnson warned: "I have to level with you that this new variant could pose a serious disruption to our progress and could make it more hard to move to step four in June".

But it also said ministers "cannot rule out re-imposing 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".

Cllr James Jamieson, the chairman of the Local Government Association, said: "Councils need local flexibility to deploy all the tools available, which may mean that we need to move to more targeted vaccinations".

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