The rise of the Indian variant of coronavirus in the UK has led to calls for the final easing of lockdown to be delayed.

The Prime Minister’s road map suggests all social restrictions will be removed from June 21, allowing for mass gatherings and a return to some normality.

But the rise in the Delta (Indian) Covid variant means the plans could change, with either the date pushed back into July, or some social restrictions being retained.

Experts fear the variant is even more transmissible and deadly than the Kent variant which sparked a second wave of Covid infections in the UK over the winter.

At least 11 cases of the Delta variant have been identified in south Essex, with nine of those alone in Basildon.

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But the Imperial College of London’s Covid hotspots map suggests it is unlikely to cause a surge in cases in the region.

The map, which predicts the likelihood of an outbreak of Covid cases up to June 20, uses previous week’s data to establish any signs of a rise or decrease in cases.

According to the map, there is a zero per cent chance of any of the five boroughs or districts in south Essex recording 100 or more Covid cases by June 20.

And the chances of the areas seeing 50 cases or more by the date are slim, with Basildon given a 3 per cent chance.

Southend, Thurrock and Castle Point are given a 1 per cent chance, while Rochford is zero.

Brentwood is the most likely place to see 50 cases or more with a 12 per cent chance.

Downing Street has said the data emerging over the coming week will be “crucial” in deciding whether all legal coronavirus restrictions can end as hoped on June 21.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “There still remains that there is nothing in the data currently to suggest Step 4 can’t go ahead at the earliest date.

“But we do need to look very closely at the data over this coming week, which will be crucial to decide and really to get a sense of the data, particularly on hospitalisations and whether or not the excellent vaccine rollout programme has sufficiently severed that link between the increase in cases, which we always expected to happen, particularly after Step 3, and that subsequently leading to hospitalisations and deaths.”

Asked if there is evidence of a third wave, the spokesman said: “We can see that the cases are rising in the UK, that is both due to the increased transmissibility of the Delta variant, and to a certain extent the opening up of measures taken in Step 3.”