Boris to delay June 21 ‘freedom day’ for a month as variant rips through UK

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Boris Johnson is set to delay Freedom Day to July 19 following a surge in the Indian Covid variant.

Sources have told the Sun that the chances of lifting restrictions as planned on June 21 are close to nil.

Cases of the mutant Delta strain have reportedly exploded by 240% in a week.

Covid restrictions could be dropped two weeks earlier than July 19 if hospitalisations stay down, it was reported.

The news has thrown a wrecking ball to Euro 2020 plans for fully jabbed or tested fans attending matches at Wembley.

Boris Johnson's plans will be confirmed on Monday.

But Whitehall sources involved in planning for the delay reportedly said a short delay was considered far better than having to u-turn and reintroduce restrictions.

They are said to have pointed to the fact that all UK adults will have been offered at least one jab by the end of July.

One source said: “The last thing they need is a hokey cokey of in out, in out of restrictions.

“No one wants to go backwards, and we have to get this right first go.”

Public Health England data has revealed infections have risen to 42,323 from 12,431 last week, a jump of 240 per cent.

Experts say Brits are two-thirds more likely to catch the Indian variant from close contacts – with cases more than tripling in 11 days.

They found household members are 64 per cent more likely to be infected with the bug compared to the Alpha or Kent strain.

Doubling rates for Delta variant infections have been as high as 4.5 days in some parts of England.

Nearly all – 96 per cent – cases are now due to the new strain.

Research suggests vaccines are protecting people from the mutant which is feared to more than double the risk of hospitalisation.

Just six per cent of all Delta – or Indian – variant infections have been in people who had both jabs.

And more than half of the 42 deaths due to the mutation were in unvaccinated Brits.

Dr Jenny Harries, Chief Executive of the UK Health Security Agency, said: “With numbers of Delta variant cases on the rise across the country, vaccination is our best defence.

“If you are eligible, we urge you to come forward and be vaccinated.

"Remember that two doses provide significantly more protection than a single dose."

The Sun reported that No10 publicly insist that no final decision has been made, but privately key figures say any chance of going ahead in two weeks time are “hanging by a very, very, very thin thread.”

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