The Government is “anxious” about the Indian variant of coronavirus and is “ruling nothing out”, Boris Johnson has said, as he hinted local restrictions may be needed.
Scientists are keeping a close eye on the spread of the variant across the UK, with new figures from Public Health England (PHE) on Thursday expected to show a big rise in cases.
Speaking at a primary school in Ferryhill, County Durham, the Prime Minister said: “It is a variant of concern, we are anxious about it.
“At the moment there is a very wide range of scientific opinion about what could happen.
“We want to make sure we take all the prudential, cautious steps now that we could take, so there are meetings going on today to consider exactly what we need to do.
“There is a range of things we could do, we are ruling nothing out.”
The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) is holding a meeting on Thursday to discuss the spread of the Indian variant, amid fears it could have an impact on the Government’s road map out of lockdown.
Bolton has one of the highest rates of the Indian variant in the UK, thought to be mostly concentrated in the under-25s.
A spokeswoman for Blackburn with Darwen Council initially said extra vaccine doses had been secured so all people aged over 18 there could be offered the jab from next week amid rising cases.
But in a statement released later on Thursday, the council said the vaccine would not be widely available to over-18s but only available “in line with Government guidance”.
Asked if local lockdowns were possible, Mr Johnson said: “There are a range of things we could do, we want to make sure we grip it.
“Obviously there’s surge testing, there’s surge tracing.
“If we have to do other things, then of course the public would want us to rule nothing out.