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The Indian coronavirus mutation could “scupper” the UK’s march to freedom, a leading scientist has warned, despite the lockdown and vaccine programme leading to cases falling to a seven-month low.
Covid-19 infections across the UK dropped to the lowest level since the autumn, according to the latest figures.
But a professor of immunology has called for Britain to be on its guard against a third wave after a possible vaccine-busting mutation was recorded in England and Scotland.
Public Health England (PHE) reported that 77 cases of the B.1.617 variant, which was first discovered in India, have been found.
Imperial College’s Danny Altmann said that as a result, those arriving into the country from India should be subject to a hotel quarantine if the UK is to shut out variants that could set back the Prime Minister’s lockdown easing plans.
But despite the warnings, Downing Street has insisted Boris Johnson’s trip to India later this month – his first major international visit since securing a Brexit trade deal with Brussels – will go ahead.
It comes as the group advising ministers on vaccine deployment recommended that pregnant women should be offered a Covid-19 jab at the same time as the rest of the population.
Russia on Saturday reported 9,321 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, including 2,822 in Moscow, taking the national tally to 4,693,469. The country also reported another 398 deaths, raising the official toll to 105,193.
In the UK, Helen Dickinson, the chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said high street shops had seen a “really positive” bounce after non-essential retail was allowed to reopen this week.
“It certainly started really well,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today.
“Although footfall was down on two years ago – because there wasn’t a lot of point measuring it against last year because we were already in lockdown in 2020 as well – it wasn’t down anything like it had been during the period of lockdown.
“From a retail point of view, people really did come out and support their local businesses and all the retailers I’ve spoken to said those first few days of the past week or so had been really positive in terms of trading.
“I think your piece highlighted the excitement of people getting back out and the excitement of the businesses in getting ready to welcome their customers back safely.”
On the growth of online shopping, Dickinson said she expected some of that to “absolutely shift back” now physical shops were open but said many retailers would continue to embrace the change, adding: “More and more people in the industry are seeing this as an opportunity rather than a threat.”
The global death toll from coronavirus is expected to reach a milestone 3m as the race to vaccinate populations continues and countries such as India grapple with a surge in infections.
The number of deaths now stands at 2.9m, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. India, the world’s most populous country, racked up 234,692 Covid-19 infections in the 24 hours to Saturday morning, health ministry data showed, which was the eighth record daily increase in the last nine days.
Amid a new wave of the pandemic, total cases reached nearly 14.5m, second only to the United States, which has reported more than 32m infections.
New Delhi led major cities across India into a weekend lockdown as the country confronts a fierce new coronavirus wave, with more than 230,000 fresh daily cases and families clamouring for drugs and hospital beds.
Hopes that south Asia might have beaten the pandemic have been dashed, with India recording more than 2m new cases this month alone and Bangladesh and Pakistan also imposing shutdowns.
India added another record 234,000 cases on Saturday to pass 14.5m overall, and 1,341 deaths took its pandemic total to 175,649 deaths.
The per-capita rates remain low by international comparison, but the speed at which cases are rising led the international Red Cross to call the south Asian surge “truly frightening”.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Coronavirus live news: concerns Indian Covid variant could ‘scupper’ UK roadmap; global death toll nears 3m | World news