July 19: Lockdown easing date 'looking good' says Prime Minister in lab visit
- Credit: Andrew Parsons / No10 Downing St
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the odds for lockdown ending on July 19 were "looking good" during a visit to a South Mimms lab on Monday.
But during the PM's tour of the National Institute for Biological Standards in Blanche Lane he warned that the NHS may face a "rough winter".
Covid cases and hospital admissions have been rising across the country in the last week - with 114 cases reported in the latest week of June 11 to 17 in Welwyn Hatfield - an increase of 71 in a week - and 67 cases in Hertsmere.
Specifically Delta variant cases, first identified in India, were up about 30 per cent in a week, Mr Johnson said: "Hospitalisations up by roughly the same amount and so, sadly, are ICU admissions."
He told reporters that we will have to be "cautious", but that they will be "following the data the whole time".
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However, he said he still believed July 19 is looking like the "terminus point" for restrictions.
The PM said: "You can never exclude that there will be some new disease, some new horror that we simply haven’t budgeted for, or accounted for.
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“But looking at where we are, looking at the efficacy of the vaccines against all variants that we can currently see – so Alpha, Delta, the lot of them, Kappa – I think it’s looking good for July 19 to be that terminus point.
“I think what the scientists are saying is that things like flu will come back this winter, we may have a rough winter for all sorts of reasons, and obviously there are big pressures on the NHS.
“All the more reason to reduce the number of Covid cases now, give the NHS the breathing space it needs to get on with dealing with all those other pressures, and we are certainly going to be putting in the investment to make sure that they can.”
Boris also touched on international travel, he said that the government was looking at the possibility of cutting the quarantine time for people returning from amber list countries.
But he emphasised his caution on the matter: "I want to stress that this is going to be – whatever happens – a difficult year for travel.
“There will be hassle, there will be delays, I am afraid, because the priority has got to be to keep the country safe and stop the virus coming back in.”