The UK has recorded its highest coronavirus infections since late February, the majority from the delta variant first identified in India. Government figures on Friday showed 8,125 new cases, the highest since February 26. The delta variant, which is considered about 40 per cent more transmissible than the previous dominant strain, accounts for more than 90 per cent of all new infections in the UK.

There are concerns the next planned lockdown easing in England on June 21 may be delayed because of the increase in cases. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will announce Monday whether social distancing restrictions will be lifted. The hope is the rapid rollout of vaccines will break the link between new cases and deaths, especially as most cases are among younger age groups. On Friday, another 17 coronavirus-related deaths were announced, taking the confirmed total to 127,884, the highest in Europe.

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