UK PM Johnson says he’s ‘anxious’ about Indian Covid-19 strain, won’t rule out local lockdowns as cases of variant jump

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UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he wouldn’t rule out imposing local measures to tackle the spread of the Indian Covid-19 variant, after the number of cases detected more than doubled in the past week.

“It is a variant of concern. We are anxious about it. It has been spreading,” Johnson told reporters during a visit to the town of Ferryhill in County Durham on Thursday.

The PM said there were a “range of things” the government could do to contain the spread of infection, including surge testing and tracing in areas such as Bolton and Blackburn, where the variant is particularly prevalent.

“If we have to do other things, then, of course, the public would want us to rule nothing out,” Johnson added.

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The PM’s comments come as the number of cases of the Indian variant detected in England more than doubled from 520 last week to 1,313 this week, according to new data from Public Health England (PHE).

The B.1.617.2 variant, which was first detected in India, was labelled a “variant of concern” by PHE last week, due to early evidence it may be more transmissible.

It was previously classified as a less severe “variant under investigation.”

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