Prime Minister Boris Johnson has accepted the apology issued by Health Secretary Matt Hancock and considered the matter closed, reports Asian Lite News
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has admitted breaching social distancing guidelines after pictures of him in a clinch with an aide were published in a newspaper.
Hancock said he had “let people down” after photos emerged of him with Gina Coladangelo – whom he appointed – and he was “very sorry”, the BBC reported.
“I accept that I breached the social distancing guidance in these circumstances. I have let people down and am very sorry,” Hancock said in a statement.
“I remain focused on working to get the country out of this pandemic, and would be grateful for privacy for my family on this personal matter,” he added.
Meanwhile, Labour has demanded the Prime Minister to sack Hancock, calling his position “untenable”, it was reported.
However, a Downing Street spokesman said the prime minister accepted the apology issued by the health secretary and considered the matter closed.
The spokesman added that the prime minister had full confidence in the health secretary.
The Sun reported that its pictures of Hancock and Coladangelo, who are both married with three children, had been taken inside the Department of Health on 6 May.
Social distancing at work is not a legal requirement, but the government recommends that people keep 2m apart where possible, or 1m with “risk mitigation”, such as standing side-by-side or wearing masks, according to the BBC report.
Delta variant dominates
With 35,204 new cases of the Delta Covid-19 variant getting reported last week, the UK has seen a 46 per cent increase in the variant of concern, the Public Health England (PHE) said on Friday.
The total number of confirmed Delta cases now stands at 111,157 — with 102,019 of these recorded in England, 7,738 in Scotland, 788 in Wales and 612 in Northern Ireland, the Sky news reported.
The Delta variant, first identified in India, now comprises 95 per cent of all sequenced cases in the UK, PHE added.
Last week, it made up 99 per cent of Covid cases across the UK, with about 42 of the latest cases belonging to the Delta plus variant (AY.1 sub lineage) — thought to be more transmissible than the original Delta variant.
The PHE also reported of a new strain, Lambda. It has been categorised as a variant under investigation with six cases detected between February 23 and June 7. Of these, five had been linked to overseas travel.
The PHE has asserted that two doses of vaccine are still effective at providing protection against the risk of hospitalisation.
It added that there is currently no evidence that the new variant causes more severe disease or renders vaccines less effective, the report said.
Further, the PHE noted that of the 514 people hospitalised in England due to Covid in the week up to June 21, 304 were unvaccinated.
About 117 cases of deaths in England so far has been confirmed as having the Delta variant. Of these, eight were under the age of 50.
Six of these eight people were unvaccinated, while two died after more than 21 days of receiving the first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, the report said.
“On Friday, 15,810 new cases and 18 deaths within 28 days of a positive test were reported across the UK,” the PHE said in a tweet.
While 43,877,861 people have now received the first dose of a Covid vaccine in the UK, 32,085,916 have received their second dose, it added.
The data suggests “we have begun to break the link between cases and hospitalisations”, Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, was quoted as saying.
She also warned against complacency and urged people to get vaccinated.
“While vaccines provide excellent protection, they do not provide total protection, so it is still as important as ever that we continue to exercise caution.
“Protect yourself and the people around you by working from home where possible, and by practising ‘hands, face, space, fresh air’ at all times,” Harries said.
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