GMB’s Dr Hilary warns UK ‘needs to get handle’ on spread of Indian Covid variant

Dr Hilary Jones shared the concern of many including SAGE, amid reports of calls for an emergency meeting over the spread of the Indian coronavirus variant across the UK.

Cases of the variant, the B1617.2 strain which is currently ravaging parts of India, have been rising at a fast rate with Bolton said to be the hotspot.

Hilary warned that with restrictions set to lift slightly again on Monday May 17, there could be risks.

The virus appears to be more transmissible than other imported variants sparking worry about the spread across the UK, with Hilary admitting it’s possible the June 21 lockdown lifting may have to be pushed back.

Speaking on Good Morning Britain on Thursday, Hilary told hosts Ben Shephard and Susanna Reid that aviation is thought to be part of what has brought the latest highly-transmissible Covid-19 strain to the UK.

He said: “It is possible. What I think we do know is again aviation has played a part in this, we think people travelling back from India before it was on the red list, and people travelling via Turkey to avoid direct flights, may have brought this into the country.

“Again the aviation industry needs further help preventing this kind of thing from happening, but 727 cases identified that’s spread very quickly… it is a worry.”

With international travel permitted again from next week, Hilary said: “A lot of people are concerned about that. There will be the potential of gatherings in airport hubs and the mixing of people from all sorts of intentional destinations and places…so it’s a concern.

“People who are in the plane, they are breathing in other people’s air… the filtration system is probably not up to scratch.

“People are desperate to broaden their horizon, get out and see friends, get some sunshine, I completely understand, who doesn’t?

“But this is a global pandemic we must never forget that. If we start seeing rising cases again we’re back to square one, and that will be a far greater challenge to people’s mental health than just being a bit more patient.”

Good Morning Britain airs weekdays at 6am on ITV.

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