THE rapidly spreading Indian variant of coronavirus is “quite likely” to become the dominant form across the UK, Matt Hancock has said ahead of a major easing of restrictions.

The UK Heath Secretary made the prediction after experts suggested the strain was 50 per cent more transmissible than the Kent variant, currently the UK’s major form.

Asked on BBC One’s Andrew Marr whether it was possible to stop the Indian strain becoming the dominant form in this country, Mr Hancock said: “I think it’s quite likely that this will become the dominant variant.

“We don’t know exactly how much more transmissible  it is, but I think it’s likely that this will become the dominant variant here.

“What that reinforces is the importance of people coming forward for testing and being careful because this isn’t over yet.

“But the good news is, because we have increasing confidence that the vaccine works against the variant, the strategy is on track.

“It’s just, you know, the virus has just gained a bit of pace and we have got to therefore be that much more careful and cautious."

Lockdown is due to ease in England, Wales and Scotland tomorrow, with a return to hugging and household visits, and pubs and restaurants serving indoors, as social distancing are rules relaxed.

However Glasgow and Moray council areas will remain in level 3 and so not experience the changes.

The Glasgow delay is driven in large part by hotspots for the Indian variant in the southside and Easterhouse.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: “High degree of confidence” vaccines work against the Indian variant says Matt Hancock

Mr Hancock said the Indian variant was still at a low  level in most of the country but “relatively widespread”.

He said five people who had had a single vaccine jab had been hospitalised with the Indian variant in Bolton, and one "frail" person who had received both.

Asked if anyone had died with the Indian variant after receiving two jabs, Mr Hancock said: “Not that we’re aware of.”

Earlier on the Marr show, chair of the Commons Home Affairs Committee, Labour MP Yvette Cooper, suggested the foreign holiday ban should not end tomorrow.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Glasgow's Indian variant outbreak is a warning against 'traffic light' travel

She said: “The Government needs to slow down its plans.

"I don’t understand why it’s lifting some of its international travel restrictions tomorrow. I think they should be being much more cautious about that.”