Boris Johnson has said the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus is a matter of “serious, serious concern”.

The Prime Minister's comments came as he is expected to announce a delay of up to four weeks in the final easing of restrictions in England - which was due to take place on June 21.

In Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon is expected to provide her next lockdown update on that date – ahead of an initial planned move to Level 0 on June 28.

This move is also likely to be delayed - with many central belt areas still in Level 2 with case numbers still rising. 

However, the First Minister has said she “still has the optimism” she felt when Scotland’s routemap was set out, because of the rising numbers of vaccinations across the country.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon's next Covid lockdown update: When is it and what to expect?

Speaking during the G7 summit in Cornwall, Mr Johnson insisted that no final decisions regarding England’s lockdown had been taken ahead of a formal announcement on Monday.

However he made clear that there had been a deterioration in the situation, with a surge in cases of the Delta variant – first detected in India – since the start of the month.

“It’s clear that the Indian variant is more transmissible and it’s also true that the cases are going up, and that the levels of hospitalisation are going up,” he told Sky News.

“Now, we don’t know exactly to what extent that is going to feed through into extra mortality, but clearly it’s a matter of serious, serious concern.”

Asked if he was less optimistic now than he was at the end of May, he said: “Yes, that’s certainly fair.

“What we want to do is make sure that the road map is irreversible, but you can’t have an irreversible road map unless you’re prepared to be cautious.

“Some of the data is still open to question, but we’ll be making an announcement on Monday.”

HeraldScotland:

Official figures show that across the UK around 96% of cases come from the faster spreading variant.

And scientists reckon it is 60% more transmissible compared with the previously dominant Alpha, or Kent, variant,

Around 3000 Delta cases have been identified in Scotland to date – an increase of 1500 in the last week.

In England, 39,061 cases have now been confirmed through sequencing and/or genotyping - up 28,264 in the past week - along with 184 in Wales and 43 in Northern Ireland.

The figures come amid discussions between governments around the UK about the “constrained” supply of the Pfizer vaccine which is expected in the coming weeks.

Following a meeting of the British-Irish Council on Friday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “We are co-operating across the four nations in terms of vaccine supply.

“We know the Delta (Indian) variant is allowing this virus to transmit more quickly and therefore we have to do everything possible to make sure that vaccination happens at a pace that can keep it under control.

“Across all four of the nations, vaccination is going extremely well, but we do know that we have, as we have at points in the past, periods coming up where some vaccine supply will be more constrained, and over the next few weeks that looks as if it will be Pfizer.”

HeraldScotland:

READ MORE: Scottish Government facing pressure to revise care home Covid mask rules

Under daily measurements, Scotland recorded two further deaths and 1030 new cases in the past 24 hours.

However, the Scottish Government said it is aware of a delay at the Lighthouse Lab in Glasgow, which may mean tests and cases reported over the last 48 hours were fewer than in the previous days.

On Saturday, the test positivity rate stood at 4.1%.

A total of 3,477,378 people have now received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, and 2,402,700 have had a second.