Surge testing is taking place in targeted parts of Nottingham city to identify cases of the so-called Indian Variant of coronavirus to minimise onwards transmission.
Public Health England has recorded 1,313 United Kingdom cases of the Indian variant.
"I think we have to wait a little bit longer to see how the data is looking but I am cautiously optimistic about that and provided this Indian variant doesn't take off in the way some people fear, I think certainly things could get back much, much closer to normality", he said.
The UK is "anxious" about the Indian COVID variant and the government is "ruling nothing out" when it comes to tackling its spread, the prime minister has said. The statement follows the release of government data showing that the strain of coronavirus, known as B1.617.2, has recorded 1,313 cases in the country this week, a substantial increase from last week's 520.
"It demonstrates these variants are now part of our general circulating viral load, which is a real concern".
Steve Baker, the deputy chair of the Covid Recovery Group of Tory backbenchers, said: "Why on Earth would we lock down when the vaccines continue to break the link between cases and hospitalisations and deaths?" But we'll take one step at a time. The city sits 56th in the league table of highest rates in the country, with a rate of 31.1 cases per 100,000 people.
CDC ‘closely monitoring’ Indian coronavirus variant, not yet ‘variant of concern’
That danger stems from a variant's higher transmissibility, lethality and resistance to vaccines, or either of them. The variant, it added, had "increased transmissibility" and has been found in 44 countries.
Wellingborough, Corby and South Northamptonshire all have more than double the national average cases per 1,000 people just days before restrictions are further relaxed under stage three of the government's roadmap.
So far, 157,745 people out of a target population of 590,000 have had a second dose in the county.
Those aged 38 or over are now eligible for jabs and widening that to everybody over 16 would mean around 210,00 over-16s requiring first doses in Northamptonshire.
Now the programme is delivering about 30,000-35,000 a week with more than 380,00 having had their first jab.
But it also said ministers "cannot rule out re-imposing economic and social restrictions at a local or regional level if evidence suggests they are necessary to contain or suppress a variant which escapes the vaccine".