Postcode lockdowns ‘could be needed indefinitely’ to tackle mutant Covid strains

Postcode lockdowns could reportedly be used to tackle outbreaks of new mutant coronavirus strains.

They would be introduced in a bid to stop the spread of new variants which could potentially be resistant to Covid-19 vaccines.

Officials are said to be drawing up plans which would see lockdowns combined with surge testing and detailed tracing to wipe them out.

Boris Johnson is due to set out his roadmap for ending the national lockdown on Monday, February 22.

The Prime Minister said it would be based on “data, not dates”, with rules being eased in stages.

He said the path would be "cautious but irreversible".

But the Times quoted sources saying the Government was aware localised restrictions might still be needed.

One said there was a big question about “what you do when lockdown does start lifting and we see variants that we have concerns about”.

The source added: "It is definitely something that we're aware of that will need to be considered.”

A decision on how to deal with local restrictions could be made in time for the announcement on Monday, the newspaper reported.

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Local restrictions could also vary depending on the risk a variant poses, it is claimed.

Mr Johnson is due to outline how the UK will gradually return to normality, including pupils returning to school and pubs and restaurants reopening.

One of the first measures which is expected to be eased is the restriction on Brits leaving their homes more than once a day for exercise.

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Experts who advise the government's Sage group of scientists told MPs on Wednesday how restrictions could be lifted.

Professor Mark Woolhouse, of the University of Edinburgh, said the data is pointing to "earlier unlocking”.

He also said there was “very little evidence of outdoor transmission”.

But Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, has urged Mr Johnson to "resist pressure to loosen restrictions" before it is safe to do so.

He said cases need to fall by 93%, to below 50,000, before lockdown can be eased.

More than 15million people in Britain have now received a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

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