A British government advisory scientist warned on Monday that Britain could be in the early stages of a third Covid-19 wave as the country reported another 3,383 cases.
Professor Ravi Gupta, from the University of Cambridge, said although new cases were "relatively low," the India-related variant had fuelled "exponential growth", Xinhua news agency reported
"Of course the numbers of cases are relatively low at the moment -- all waves start with low numbers of cases that grumble in the background and then become explosive, so the key here is that what we are seeing here is the signs of an early wave," he told the BBC.
However, he said the progress of vaccine rollout in Britain meant this wave would probably take longer to emerge than previous ones.
"There may be a false sense of security for some time, and that's our concern," said Gupta, a member of the government's New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag).
The plan to end coronavirus restrictions in England on June 21 should be postponed, he said. "If you look at the costs and benefits of getting it wrong, I think it is heavily in favor of delay, so I think that's the key thing."
Another 3,383 people in Britain have tested positive for Covid-19, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to 4,487,339, according to official figures released Monday.
The country also reported another coronavirus-related death. The total number of coronavirus-related deaths in Britain now stands at 127,782. These figures only include the deaths of people who died within 28 days of their first positive test.
Meanwhile, the cases of Covid-19 variant first detected in India, named Delta strain by WHO, have doubled in a week in England to almost 7,000, prompting concerns that the British government's lockdown roadmap will be derailed.
From May 17, pubs, bars and restaurants in England were permitted to open indoors, while indoor entertainment resumed, including cinemas, museums and children's play areas. People were also allowed to travel abroad to a number of green-list countries without having to quarantine upon return as the ban on foreign travel has also been lifted.
Easing of lockdown to be delayed
The British government's roadmap is expected to see all legal limits on social contact to be removed on June 21. It is understood that a final decision on the planned easing of lockdown will not be made until June 14.
More than 39.3 million people, about three-quarters of adults in Britain, have been given the first jab of a coronavirus vaccine, according to the latest official figures.
Experts have warned that coronavirus may continue to evolve for years to come, and eventually, it is likely current vaccines will fail to protect against transmission, infection, or even disease caused by newer variants.