Boris Johnson set to hold Downing Street press conference at 5pm amid Indian variant concern
The Prime Minister will hold a Downing Street press briefing at 5 pm on Friday (May 14). He will be joined by England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty
It comes as UK cases of the Indian variant of coronavirus have more than doubled in the past week, according to data from Public Health England.
Figures published on Thursday evening show there are 1,313 cases of the VOC-21APR-02 variant in the country, up from 520 the previous week.
The strain has also been found in the North East, with 19 cases detected in the region so far.
Three of the cases are travel-related, health officials confirmed, while PHE added that the North East’s figure is the lowest of any English region.
However, no further information has been provided on where exactly those 19 are.
The number covers all of Newcastle, Northumberland, Gateshead, North and South Tyneside, Sunderland, County Durham, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, Stockton, Hartlepool, and Darlington.
Sunderland City Council has confirmed there were no cases there.
There are fears the Indian variant could be more resistant to vaccines and threaten lockdown easing plans.
Speaking at a primary school in Ferryhill, County Durham on Thursday (May 13), the Prime Minister said he was “anxious” about the variant and added refused to rule any measures out.
He said: “It is a variant of concern, we are anxious about it.”
“At the moment there is a very wide range of scientific opinion about what could happen.
“We want to make sure we take all the prudential, cautious steps now that we could take, so there are meetings going on today to consider exactly what we need to do.
“There is a range of things we could do, we are ruling nothing out.”
Responding to the increase in cases of the Indian variant of concern, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “We are committed to working with local areas and deploying our world-leading genomic sequencing to get this variant under control.
“We are supporting areas where the cases of this variant are rising.
“We are monitoring the situation very carefully and will not hesitate to take further action if necessary."