Boris Johnson is set to make an announcement today (April 20) as fears rise about the Indian variant of coronavirus.
The national address will be the government’s first since the death of the Duke of Edinburgh was announced.
It’ll take place in the new Downing Street briefing room at 5pm today, and will be televised on all the news channels.
What will Boris Johnson say in his announcement today?
It’s not yet known what the PM will discuss, but he’s expected to address the rise in variant cases in the UK.
So far, 557 cases of the South African variant have been found in the UK.
There have also been 103 cases of the newly-discovered Indian variant in Britain, too.
As a result, the government has announced that travel into the UK from India will be banned from 4am on Friday (April 23).
When did the Indian variant emerge?
The variant was first discovered in the Indian state of Maharashtra in December 2020, with the Indian health ministry reporting that 15-20% of cases in the region carried that variant at the end of March.
That number is more like 60% now.
Data in the UK indicates the variant was found in samples here as early as February.
Most cases are linked to travel from India, but some have come from the virus being transmitted in people’s homes.
Boris Johnson cancels his trip to India
The PM was due to head off to India next week.
It might make the vaccine less effective.
However, since the country is currently reporting more than 200,000 cases of COVID-19 each day, it has been added to the UK’s “red list”.
As such, Boris decided that cancelling his trip was “only sensible”.
He was due to fly out to meet his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.
What does this mean for the COVID-19 vaccine?
Boris Johnson could outline new research in his announcement today.
It’s currently a “variant under investigation” according to Public Health England.
Speaking on Lorraine this morning, Dr Hilary Jones addressed concerns about the rising rates of both the South African and Indian variant.
He said there were worries “it might make the vaccine less effective”.
Dr Hilary added: “That is why the government has said it’ll be looking into booster vaccines towards the end of the year. So that we keep up our immunity.”
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