Boris slammed for acting 'too late' as cases of Indian variant double in a week

The prime minister has been slammed for being too slow to act as cases of the Indian Covid variant more than doubled in a week across the UK.

Cases of the highly-transmissible B.1617.2 ‘variant of concern’ have shot up from 520 to 1,313 this week, data released by Public Health England (PHE) on Thursday shows.

PHE said cases were ‘rising in the community’ as Sefton, in Merseyside, became the latest area to detect the variant – prompting local health officials to deploy surge testing.

The PM said earlier that he was ‘anxious’ about the increase and that his government were ‘ruling nothing out’ to help curb the spread of the variant – suggesting local restrictions in areas with rising infection rates could be back on the cards.

Ministers have criticised Boris Johnson for waiting until it was ‘too late’ to put India on the travel ‘red list’ and forcing passengers to go into quarantine hotels.

Yvette Cooper, who chairs the home affairs committee, questioned why the government didn’t ‘follow the evidence’ emerging around the new variant detected in the country and quickly close the borders.

She tweeted: ‘This is incredibly frustrating. The steep increase in cases of the India variant in the UK was NOT inevitable.

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‘Why did PM not put India on the red list 2 weeks earlier when Pakistan and Bangladesh were added to red list? And why did they then delay a further 4 days to implement?’

‘After everything everyone has gone through this last year, we are all desperate to return towards normality and we are relying on Govt not to make the same mistakes & delays in Covid border policies AGAIN that could set us all backwards again or risk further domestic restrictions,’ she added.

Layla Moran MP, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus, agreed that the figures were ‘deeply concerning’ and suggest the government ‘failed to act swiftly enough’.

She said: ‘Ministers only added India to the red list several weeks after this mutation was identified as a variant of concern, by which time it was too late.

‘Our cross-party report has called for countries to be added to the ‘red list’ as soon as variants of concern are identified, and for quarantine rules to then come into force with immediate effect.’

More to follow…

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