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Delay lockdown lifting, health leaders urge UK govt

Public health officials say lifting the last Covid-19 restrictions in England on 21 June should be delayed to stop the country from going backwards.

The Association of Directors of Public Health said government is expected to announce on Monday whether it will remove the last of the restrictions a week later.

Minister Nadhim Zahawi said it had to be careful not to squander the progress made in tackling the virus, adding that the final stage of lifting restrictions would see all legal limits on social contact removed Nightclubs would reopen, and restrictions on performances, weddings and other life events would also be lifted.

But concerns about the spread of the Delta variant, first identified in India and now dominant in the UK, have led some scientists to call for a delay to ending lockdown.

The latest official data suggests there have been nearly 30,000 new UK cases of the Delta variant in the past week, accounting for 90% of cases.

Public Health England said Association of Directors of Public Health vice-president Jim McManus told Radio 4’s Today programme the government had a “fiendishly difficult decision” to make on whether to ease restrictions further.

He added that more people getting infected would allow more variants to develop, which could risk a variant developing that evades the vaccine completely.

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