British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has delayed plans to lift coronavirus restrictions by a month because of the highly contagious Delta variant, first identified in India.
Johnson said on Monday that restrictions will now be lifted on July 19 instead of June 21.
“I think it is sensible to wait just a little longer,” he told a news conference in London.
Johnson said he is confident that the country will be able to reopen on July 19, noting that by then two-thirds of the British population are expected to be fully vaccinated.
“It’s unmistakably clear the vaccines are working, and the sheer scale of the vaccine rollout has made our position incomparably better than in previous waves,” he said.
On Monday, the British government reported 7,742 new confirmed coronavirus cases, and Johnson said cases are growing by about 64% per week.
The Delta variant of the coronavirus now accounts for 90% of new cases in Britain.
In other countries
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe is reintroducing a lockdown in an attempt to contain the spread of a COVID-19 outbreak.
Vice President Constantino Chiwenga said in a televised speech this weekend that complacency has resulted in a spike in COVID-19 cases.
In India, a number of states eased coronavirus restrictions on Monday, including the capital Delhi, as the number of new infections dropped to the lowest level in 74 days. The country reported 70,421 new COVID-19 cases in the previous 24-hour period, the lowest since March 31.
Public health officials have cautioned that India’s tolls may be undercounted.
Also Monday, U.S.-based biotech company Novavax announced that Phase 3 clinical trials of its COVID-19 vaccine show it more than 90% effective at preventing the disease and providing good protection against variants.
The Novavax vaccine, which is easy to store and transport, is expected to play an important role in boosting vaccine supplies in the developing world.
The White House’s top adviser on the pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told The Washington Post the vaccine is “really very impressive,” saying it is on par with the most effective shots developed during the pandemic.
Vaccination requirement lawsuit
A federal judge in the U.S. state of Texas on Saturday dismissed a lawsuit challenging a hospital’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement for its employees.
U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes in the Southern District of Texas wrote that the employees of Houston Methodist Hospital “are not participants in a human trial.” He said, “Methodist is trying to do their business of saving lives without giving them the Covid-19 virus.”
According to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, the United States has had the highest number of coronavirus cases, at 33.5 million, followed by India, with 29.5 million coronavirus infections, and Brazil, with 17.4 million COVID-19 cases.