India variant cases almost DOUBLE in just four days –Hancock issues warning on ‘real risk’

Matt Hancock discusses ‘tackling’ Indian variant spread

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Updating MPs in the House of Commons, the Health Secretary said there were now 2,323 confirmed cases of the mutant strain, officially called B.1617.2. Just four days ago there were 1,313 registered infections from the variant.

Mr Hancock said: “There’s now 2,323 confirmed cases of B.1617.2 in the UK – 483 of these cases have been seen in Bolton and Blackburn with Darwen, where it’s now the dominant strain.

“Cases there have doubled in the last week and are rising in all age groups.

“In Blackburn, hospitalisations are stable with eight people currently in hospital with Covid, and in Bolton 19 people are now in hospital with coronavirus – the majority of whom are eligible for a vaccine but haven’t yet had a vaccine.

“This shows the new variant is not tending to penetrate into older, vaccinated groups and it underlines again the importance of getting the jab especially – but not only – amongst the vulnerable age groups.”

The new strain is more transmissible than the Kent variant that is currently dominant across the UK, with fears it will rapidly spread across the country in the coming weeks.

While scientists are cautiously confident the vaccines are effective against the Indian mutation, there are concerns it could spread quickly amongst those without immunity and there was “a real risk” it could lead to a new wave of infections.

Mr Hancock added: “There are now 86 local authorities where there are five or more confirmed cases.

“The next biggest case of concern is Bedford where we are surging testing – and I would urge everybody in Bedford to exercise caution and engage in testing where it is available.”

More to follow…

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