Boris Johnson holding 5pm press conference amid coronavirus variant fears

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Boris Johnson will hold a press conference at 5pm as fears grow over new Covid-19 variants.

The Prime Minister will address the nation after government ministers admitted 557 cases of the South Africa variant and 103 of the India variant have been found in the UK to date.

Both variants have seen some "community transmission" – meaning they did not have obvious links to international travel.

Travel from India will finally be banned from 4am on Friday as cases surge on the subcontinent, with the capital New Delhi in lockdown.

The huge country will become the 40th on the travel 'red list', from which only UK residents can travel but most quarantine in a £1,750 hotel.

People must quarantine for 10 days in a government-approved hotel, taking a Covid test on the second and eighth day of their stay.

Mr Johnson cancelled his own trip to India, saying it was "only sensible" given the rising number of cases in the country.

The Prime Minister had been due to travel to the subcontinent to boost trade and investment ties, but he will now speak to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi online.

Mr Johnson said: "I do think it's only sensible to postpone, given what's happened in India, the shape of the pandemic there."

Speaking on the Indian variant, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: "We've recently seen a new variant first identified in India.

"We've now detected 103 cases of this variant, of which again the vast majority have links to international travel and have been picked up by our testing at the border."

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It comes after the UK passed 10 million second vaccine doses for elderly and vulnerable people.

Mr Hancock hailed the milestone, saying uptake of the jab is 94% among over-50s as a whole.

He told MPs: "Three quarters of over 75s have now had both jabs, rising to four fifths of over-80s.

"The vaccine is our way out of this pandemic and I’m delighted it’s being taken up in such huge numbers."

  • In the News
  • Coronavirus
  • Boris Johnson

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