LONDON, June 15 (Xinhua) -- The easing of COVID-19 restrictions in Scotland is likely to be delayed by three weeks amid a surge of coronavirus cases, Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Tuesday.
It was previously planned that the region would move to the lowest Level Zero of its five-tier system from June 28.
Speaking at the Scottish Parliament, Sturgeon said this was likely to be delayed to allow more people to be vaccinated.
According to the BBC, the coronavirus case rate in Scotland is five times higher than it was in early May.
"We need to buy sufficient time for vaccination to get ahead and stay ahead of the virus, and that is the reason for caution at this juncture," Sturgeon said.
"Doing that will give us the best chance, later in July, of getting back on track and restoring the much greater normality that we all crave".
A formal decision is likely to be taken next week. Sturgeon said it was "reasonable to indicate now that I think it unlikely that any part of the country will move down a level" as planned.
The latest development came one day after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a four-week delay to the final step of England's roadmap out of COVID-19 restrictions until July 19, amid a surge in cases of the Delta variant first identified in India.
Public Health England (PHE) has said that the Delta variant is now the "dominant" strain in Britain.
More than 41.8 million people have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine and more than 30.2 million have received their second dose across Britain, according to the latest official figures.
Experts have warned that coronavirus may continue to evolve for years to come, and eventually it is likely current vaccines will fail to protect against transmission, infection, or even against disease caused by newer variants.
To bring life back to normal, countries such as Britain, China, Russia, the United States as well as the European Union have been racing against time to roll out coronavirus vaccines.