More than 90% of coronavirus cases in the United Kingdom correspond to the Delta variant, according to the country’s health minister.
Speaking to a parliamentary committee on Thursday, Matt Hancock claimed that the Delta variant, which first originated in India, “It now comprises 91% of new cases in the UK.”
Hancock said the data was based on an assessment he had seen Wednesday night.
The news comes as the UK is facing a recent surge in COVID-19 cases.
Government figures showed on Wednesday that the UK had recorded the highest number of daily coronavirus cases since late February, suggesting that the Delta variant was rapidly spreading across the country.
A total of 7,540 new infections were recorded, representing the largest daily increase since February 26.
At the same time, a total of 123 people were admitted to the hospital with symptoms related to the coronavirus, while the number of people who died after testing positive for COVID-19 increased by six.
The lifting of restrictions in June could be at risk
Earlier this month, Hancock said the UK vaccination program appeared to be helping to break the link between new cases and deaths, and that hospitalizations remained low, despite the spread of the Delta variant.
On Thursday, Hancock explained to deputies that the government was monitoring “Hospitalization data like a hawk”.
The British government is expected to announce next week whether it will go ahead with plans to fully lift coronavirus restrictions on June 21.
Hancock said lifting the restrictions will largely depend on how the relationship between COVID cases and hospitalizations evolves.
“The link is falling and the question is how far it is falling and at what speed”, has pointed out.
The Government was warned of the high mortality rate
During Thursday’s appearance, Hancock also explained to MPs that the Government had been warned in January last year that up to 820,000 people could die in the UK due to the coronavirus pandemic.
He stated that in March 2020 officials were clear that the prediction could come true if no action was taken.
It was initially understood that the government had applied its first lockdown that month in response to a study by Imperial College London that warned that up to 500,000 people could die if the virus could spread uncontrollably while the UK created “herd immunity”.
However, Hancock revealed that the figure feared by authorities was significantly higher, as the figure was calculated by the Department of Health.
Hancock said the figure was calculated based on infection and death rates from the 1918 flu outbreak.
“Knowing that this was a reasonable worst case scenario, we have anticipated it”, has communicated to the deputies.
As of Thursday night, a total of 4,551,694 people have contracted the coronavirus in the UK and 128,124 have died, according to the Johns Hopkins University online registry.