Britain today announced four coronavirus deaths in the lowest daily count in more than seven months.
Department of Health figures showed there were also 2,963 new infections in the past 24 hours, down 17 per cent on last week’s figure of 3,568.
Today’s Covid deaths are the lowest they’ve been since the start of September after falling almost 70 per cent compared to last Monday’s 13.
There is no indication that opening outdoor pubs, gyms and hairdressers last week, or reintroducing the rule of six late last month, has caused an uptick in cases.
Coronavirus metrics are usually low on Mondays due to the way test results and fatalities are logged, but ministers will take confidence in the fact both cases and deaths are down significantly on last Monday.
Mr Johnson has promised to stick to ‘data, not dates’ when it comes to easing curbs but has refused to move quicker despite vanishingly low death numbers and just 2,000 Covid patients in the NHS.
Health officials revealed another 300,000 vaccines were administered on Sunday – the most recent day- with 221,000 people getting their second jab and 83,225 their first.
It means a total of 10.1million Britons are now fully vaccinated against the disease and almost 33m are waiting on their follow-up appointment.
Matt Hancock told MPs today that the government had made the ‘difficult’ decision to place the country in the highest level of restrictions from 4am on Friday.
Some 103 cases of the variant first identified in India have now been identified in the UK, with the ‘vast majority’ linked to international travel, he said.
‘After studying the data and on a precautionary basis we have made the difficult but vital decision to add India to the red list,’ the Health Secretary said.
Travel from destinations on the ‘red list’ is banned, and any British residents returning home must check into quarantine hotels.
Earlier, a joint statement from the British and Indian government said Mr Johnson’s trip – already scaled back – will not go ahead ‘in light of the current situation’.
Mr Hancock said the latest move means ‘anyone who is not a UK or Irish resident or a British citizen cannot enter the UK if they’ve been in India in the previous 10 days’.
‘UK and Irish residents and British citizens who have been in India in the past 10 days before their arrival will need to complete hotel quarantine for 10 days from the time of arrival.’
He added: ‘India is a country I know well and love. Between our two countries we have ties of friendship and family. I understand the impact of this decision but I hope the House will concur that we must act.’
During a visit to Gloucestershire earlier, Mr Johnson told reporters: ‘Narendra Modi and I have basically come to the conclusion that, very sadly, I won’t be able to go ahead with the trip. I do think it’s only sensible to postpone, given what’s happened in India, the shape of the pandemic there.
‘Countries around the world including our own have been through this. I think everybody’s got a massive amount of sympathy with India, what they’re going through.
‘And I just want to stress that this is, we’re going to be going back, the relationship between the UK and India is of huge importance, and I’ll be talking to Narendra Modi on Monday, we’ll be trying to do as much as we can, virtually.
‘Of course it will be frustrating, but we’ll try and replicate as much as we can remotely, and then look forward to doing it in person as and when circumstances allow, and hopefully before the Cop summit in November and hopefully we’ll get Narendra Modi over for the G7 in June.’
Speculation had been mounting about the fate of the trip as the situation spirals in the India.
Mr Johnson had already pushed the visit back from earlier this year as a result of the UK’s third lockdown.
Rather than several days of talks with Narendra Modi and high-profile events, it was only due to be a single day next weekend – but is now off altogether.