During a Downing Street briefing, the Health Secretary said the Government had always expected cases to rise when lockdown restrictions were eased. However, he warned that it is “critical” to monitor the link between cases and hospitalisations. Public Health England data shows that cases of the Indian variant have risen by 3,535, to 6,959, since last week.
The B.1.617.2 variant, first identified in India, is believed to be more transmissible than the Kent strain which became dominant in the UK after Christmas.
The rise in cases of the Indian variant has resulted in surge testing and vaccinations in numerous areas.
Mr Hancock said: “The variant first identified in India, so-called B.1.617.2, is still spreading.
“And the latest estimates are that more than half and potentially as many as three quarters of all new cases are now of this variant.
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It comes after Mr Hancock faced brutal comments from Dominic Cummings over the Government’s handling of the pandemic.
The Prime Minister’s former senior aide told a committee of MPs that Mr Hancock is “completely incapable of doing the job” and said he “should have been fired” for lying.
Mr Cummings said he repeatedly urged Mr Johnson to fire the Health Secretary.
Mr Hancock told MPs in the House of Commons on Thursday that Mr Cummings’ “allegations around honesty are not true”.
He added: “I’ve been straight with people in public and in private throughout.”