Indian Covid strain 40% more transmissible than other variants as cases soar 70% in a week, Matt Hancock warns

THE Indian Covid strain is 40 per cent more transmissible than other Covid variants, Matt Hancock has warned.

The Health Secretary said the Indian variant had made the decisions behind the June 21 unlocking "more difficult" as he confirmed the latest advice is that the Delta mutation is 40 per cent more transmissible than the Kent variant.

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He said: "That means that it is more difficult to manage this virus with the new Delta variant.

"But crucially, after two doses of vaccine we are confident that you get the same protection that you did with the old variant.

"So the good news is that the vaccine still works just as effectively. "Everybody must go and get their second jab though because the first isn't as effective on its own.

"So ultimately it does make the calculation more difficult for June 21 but it doesn't change our strategy which is we all need to go and get vaccinated and that way we will break this link between the number of cases to the number of hospitalisations."

It comes as Covid cases in the UK have rocketed by 70 per cent in just one week.

Another 5,765 new infections were recorded yesterday, with 13 coronavirus-related deaths – bringing the total fatalities since the pandemic began to 127,836.

Boris Johnson will examine the Covid stats this week to decide over lifting restrictions on June 21, Mr Hancock revealed.

The Health Secretary said it was "too early" to determine whether the Government would lift all coronavirus restrictions later this month.

"We have said that we will give people enough time ahead of the June 21 date which is pencilled in as the next step – which is to be not before June 21 – and the critical thing is to see whether the four tests we have set have been met.

"That's in terms of the number of cases, and cases are rising slightly, the number of hospitalisations, which are much more flat.

"That's because the third test, the rollout of the vaccine, is going incredibly well.

"Then, of course, we have to look at the impact of new variants and we have seen a very significant impact of a new variant – the Delta (also known as the Indian) variant – over the last month or so."

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