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Boris Johnson said Britain will "face some hard choices" if the Indian variant of coronavirus is significantly more transmissible than the Kent variant, as he confirmed the June 21 release of lockdown may be under threat.
The Prime Minister said the new variant "could pose a serious disruption to our progress and could make it more difficult to move to our step four in June".
As he showed slides at a Downing Street press conference, Professor Chris Whitty said there is "no doubt" the Indian variant is more transmissible.
Mr Johnson announced an acceleration of second doses among over 50s and those clinically vulnerable to just eight weeks after the first dose.
Data from Public Health England show there have been just four deaths linked to the mutation.
Meanwhile, Portugal has lifted its travel ban to allow holidaymakers from Britain to fly to the country on Monday.
Augusto Santos Silva, its foreign affairs minister, announced the move after a day of speculation that it might maintain its ban on non-essential travel in face of pressure from the EU due to its extension of the national "state of calamity". Here is the latest advice.
Yet the chief executive of On The Beach has warned that "now is not the time to book a summer holiday". Read more.
How Gaza crisis has given Netanyahu a political lifeline
Israeli artillery pounded northern Gaza today in an attempt to destroy a network of militant tunnels inside the territory, the military said, hours after retracting a statement that it had begun a ground assault on the besieged Palestinian enclave. Michael Stephens analyses how the Gaza conflict is a "must-win" for Benjamin Netanyahu, but outlines how Hamas is no longer a pushover. Roland Oliphant examines Hamas's arsenal and their tactics. He also analyses how the riots between Jews and Arabs have handed the Israeli prime minister a political lifeline.
'Why I'm buying Liverpool's old training ground'
When Jamie Carragher retired as a Liverpool player, his morning routine was so engraved he would sometimes find himself heading towards his old training ground as if he was still working there. He would have to reverse the car and realise he was no longer a Liverpool player. Yet when Melwood became available, he could not resist a return to his spiritual home with fellow former Reds legend Robbie Fowler. Read why the pair are buying Liverpool's old training ground.
At a glance: Coronavirus evening briefing
Immigration | Five million EU citizens apply to settle in UK
Suicides rise | Covid decimates Thailand's tourism industry
Half visitors | Tourist-led economies face two more lost summers
Also in the news: Today's other headlines
Money laundering probe | The Serious Fraud Office has launched a fraud and money laundering probe into Sanjeev Gupta’s business empire and its links to collapsed lender Greensill Capital. Read on for details.
DUP leadership | Edwin Poots wins party's first contest - who is he?
Diana interview | Martin Bashir quits BBC amid investigation
Kidney cancer | Labour MP Wes Streeting reveals diagnosis
Text scam gang | Lloyds Bank worker took bribes to launder millions
Tate Britain, review | Heather Phillipson's otherworldly vision
Around the world: 12 killed in Kabul mosque blast
A bomb ripped through a mosque in northern Kabul during Friday prayers and killed 12 worshippers, Afghan police said. Spokesman Ferdaws Faramarz said the mosque's imam, Mofti Naiman, was among the dead. Another 15 people were wounded. Read on for details.
'I'm based in a wheelchair, but I drive, ski, scuba-dive, go on my bike'
In 2004, Frank Gardner was shot by al-Qaeda gunmen and left for dead. Yet he tells Celia Walden that today he has a new book, a new(ish) relationship and a new life
Comment and analysis
Matthew Lesh | Learning to live with variants is humanity's next test
Tom Harris | Sturgeon's immigration comments will bite back soon
Jeremy Warner | Green transition will unleash monster price rises
Joanna Williams | Prince Harry's 'genetic pain' an insult to the Queen
Jemima Lewis | We can't let scammers keep getting away with it
Editor's choice: Features and arts
Consumer champion | 'I put the wrong fuel in my Audi and my insurer won't cough up'
Mental illness | 'I was let down so many times by the NHS that I nearly died'
Honest John | Is a German car better than a Japanese or Korean one?
Business and money briefing
Delivering jobs | Amazon will create another 10,000 positions in the UK, bringing its total workforce to 55,000 permanent staff this year as its aggressive hiring spree showed no signs of slowing down.
Assault on ice | Biden redraws battle lines in the tech war with China
On top of markets | Live stocks and shares updates 24 hours a day
England rugby | England attack coach Simon Amor and skills coach Jason Ryles have both left their roles with the national men's side as England look to move on from their worst-ever Six Nations campaign.
Gregor Townsend | England's World Cup loss to shape Lions plan
Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea | Spanish banquet and 'The Captain Class'
Doping allegations | Yastremska accused of attempted cover-up
Three things for tonight
And finally... for this evening's downtime
Buying habits | As The Telegraph's Shopping Editor, it is Krissy Turner's job is to be good at shopping. Yet a new wardrobe-management app has forced her to reassess the way she buys clothes when she found out how many clothes she really has.