Ian Payne 4am - 7am
Boris Johnson to hold Downing Street press conference
14 May 2021, 16:48 | Updated: 14 May 2021, 17:24
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is holding a press conference this evening amid concerns about the Indian Covid variant.
Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi urged people in the 15 areas of England with spread of the variant of concern to follow local health advice, get tested and isolate if they test positive.
London and the North West have seen the biggest rise in cases, with Public Health England (PHE) data showing the Indian variant has been responsible for four deaths as of May 12.
Asked if the June 21 road map easing - when all legal limits on social contact are due to be lifted - could be put on ice, Mr Zahawi told LBC's Nick Ferrari that this Monday's reopening of indoor meet-ups "is still on".
What time is Boris Johnson’s press conference?
Boris Johnson will talk at 5:30pm.
He will be joined by Professor Chris Whitty.
What will Boris Johnson talk about?
Variant B.1.617.2 first appeared in India but has since spread to the UK.
In recent days there has been a sharp rise in the number of cases, going from 520 to 1,313 in a week.
As with any variant, there have been concerns that this strain could cause more severe disease or be able to evade the immunity currently given by vaccines.
There is no evidence for either of these yet, and vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi told LBC that the Government was awaiting "further clinical advice".
Keeping infection levels low is a key criterion needed to allow for the further easing of restrictions, and one that Mr Zahawi said must be met in order to move to the next state of the roadmap.
A number of measures, such as surge testing and additional vaccination centres, have been set up in Indian variant hotspots to try to tackle the rise in cases.
It is unclear what additional measures could be employed, but Boris Johnson has said he is ruling nothing out, including the possibility of local lockdowns and vaccinating young people in certain areas sooner than planned.