Coronavirus variants should not derail English lockdown easing, says health official

FILE PHOTO: Commuters travel by underground inside an almost empty train, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in London, Britain, January 5, 2021. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - The emergence of new variants of the coronavirus should not derail a plan to start easing a nationwide lockdown in England over the coming weeks, Public Health England (PHE) official Susan Hopkins said on Sunday.

“I think it won’t change it for the next three to five weeks, that would be highly unlikely,” Hopkins, PHE’s strategic response director, told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show.

“We will need to watch it carefully as new strains come into the country from around the world and we will need to be very ready for autumn.”

Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; Editing by David Goodman