Indian Covid variant cases rise by 28% in 2 days as infections on the rise – with surge testing in 8 new UK hotspots

 CASES of the Indian variant have risen by 28 per cent since Monday, Matt Hancock confirmed this afternoon.

The Health Secretary said infections have grown from 2,323 two days ago, to 2,967 today.

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People queue for Covid-19 vaccinations at the ESSA academy in Bolton
People queue for Covid-19 vaccinations at the ESSA academy in BoltonCredit: Getty

He also revealed surge testing is being deployed in eight new areas - Bedford, Burnley, Hounslow, Kirklees, Leicester, North Tyneside, Glasgow and Moray (on top of Bolton and Blackburn).

My Hancock said: "What this means in practice is we are putting in place more testing and more testing sites. On vaccinations, we are making more vaccinations available to everyone who is eligible."

He added "we are not yet opening up vaccinations to those who are 35 and younger".

Mr Hancock told the Commons: "In the last week across Bolton and Blackburn with Darwen we have given 26,094 jabs as well as delivering 75,000 extra tests.

"But this challenge is not restricted to Bolton and Blackburn.

"We have used the extensive bio-security surveillance system that we have built and new techniques to identify the areas we are most concerned about where we will now surge testing and vaccinations further."

It comes as:

In a Downing Street press conference today, Mr Hancock revealed the weekly case rate in Bolton has risen to 283 per 100,000 people - doubling in a week.

He said: "There are 25 people in Bolton hospital with Covid - the majority are unvaccinated.

"Nearly 90 per cent have not had two vaccines. This shows the importance of getting vaccinated, not once but twice. When you get the call, get the jab."

The B.1617.2 variant is now believed to be the dominant strain across 23 areas in the UK.

The Health Secretary added: "The early evidence suggests that the B.1617.2 new variant, first discovered in India, passes on more easily person to person than the Kent variant.

"But as the Prime Minister said at lunchtime we have increasing confidence the vaccines are working against it. That means our strategy is the right one." 

Boris Johnson said earlier today the vaccines currently rolled out in the UK are "effective against all variants" - including the Indian mutation.

While the Indian variant is a concern - the number of people in hospital with Covid has dropped very low
While the Indian variant is a concern - the number of people in hospital with Covid has dropped very lowCredit: UK.GOV

He said: "We have looked at the data again this morning, we have increasing confidence vaccines are effective against all variants including Indian."

The PM added that new variants is one of the issues the UK must face when continuing to ease restrictions.

So far in the UK over 36.8 million Brits have had a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine with 20.5 million having had a second.

The PM told the House of Commons 70 per cent of the country has now had a first jab.

Earlier this week jabs were rolled out younger Brits, with 36 year olds able to sign up for their shot today.

olled out, the Oxford/AstraZenenca, the Pfizer/BioNTech and the Moderna.

Vaccine uptake has been high across the country but Health Secretary Matt Hancock this week suggested people in hospital with the Indian variant, in hotspot areas such as Blackburn and Bolton, had not taken the jab even though they were eligible.

Cases are the highest in Bolton - where the Indian strain is now the dominant strain and Mr Johnson thanked residents in the area for coming forward to have their jabs.



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