Map reveals Indian variant hotspots where Covid strain is dominant

 MORE areas of England have seen the Indian variant dominate Covid cases.

This map reveals where the strain, newly named “Delta” by the World Health Organization, makes up at least half of cases.

To view the map click here. By hovering over each area, it shows what percentage of cases were caused by the Indian strain.

The Sanger Institute data represents new cases in the two weeks to May 22 and does not include surge tests.

Almost a third of local authorities in England (91 of 315) are now dominated by the Indian strain.

This is double the 43 reported last week.

It shows that the Indian variant was the cause of all infections in Babergh, West Oxfordshire, Reigate and Banstead, Sevenoaks and Dover.

However, the absolute case numbers are not high in those areas.

The highest number of cases were detected in Bolton. In one week, the Indian strain cropped up 758 times. 

The Indian variant accounted for 91 per cent of new cases in the Greater Manchester town which has been at the centre of the outbreak.

Blackburn with Darwen, where 95 per cent of cases are the Indian variant, recorded the second highest cases (248) in one week.

Croydon and Central Bedfordshire are the other two areas where the Indian variant makes up at least 90 per cent of new cases, reporting 51 and 40 cases in one week. 

The Sanger data reveals the super contagious Indian strain is still surging predominantly in the North West.

But large parts of the Midlands, South East and London are also becoming hotbeds of the virus.

The South West, Yorkshire and North East remain largely unscathed at this point.

But new hotspots have emerged in the past fortnight as the Indian variant spreads further across the country. 

Similarly the East of England is now seeing areas where the Indian strain has suddenly become most prolific.

Where the Indian strain was dominant in the two weeks to May 15
Where the Indian strain was dominant in the two weeks to May 15Credit: Sanger InstituteThere are concerns the next stage of unlocking - on June 21, dubbed “Freedom Day” - should be halted now that there is a new, dominant variant.

The strain also has some level of vaccine escape, which means jabs are not as effective against it. 

The job of the Covid-19 vaccination programme is not yet “done”, an immunisation expert has said, as around 30 per cent of adults still need their first dose.

Professor Adam Finn, of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) which advises the Government on vaccine priority, told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “There’s vulnerability across the country. The idea that somehow the job is done is wrong.

“We’ve still got a lot of people out there who’ve neither had this virus … nor yet been immunised, and that’s why we’re in a vulnerable position right now.”

He told LBC that pressing ahead with the easing of restrictions on June 21 “may be a bad decision”.

However, scientists are split on whether to press ahead.

Robert Dingwall, professor of sociology at Nottingham Trent University, told Times Radio: “I personally don’t see any case for delay … from a societal point of view, I think it’s really important that we go ahead on June 21.

“We’ve got to look at the collateral damage in terms of untreated cancers, untreated heart conditions, all of the other things that people suffer from.

“We’ve got to think about the impact of economic damage that would be caused by further periods of delay and uncertainty.”

Uptick in cases

It comes as data from the Government dashboard shows that the number of cases diagnosed in the UK in the past week is up by 28.8 per cent, compared to the week before.

There have been 58 deaths in the past seven days, which is also up by 45 per cent in one week.

And hospital admissions are up by 23.2 per cent, with 870 admitted in the past week. 


Although cases remain at a low level - around 2,500 per day, on average - they are the highest they have been since a low of 1,800 in April.

It was expected that lifting restrictions would lead to a surge of new infections as people socialise more, but the Indian strain appears to be fuelling this more.

Data from Public Health England shows that cases are rising in more than half of England’s authorities. 

In the seven days to May 24, 176 of the 315 areas have seen an increase in new cases per 100,000 people.

Bolton (387.1), Blackburn with Darwen (390.1) and Rossendale (292.4) have the highest rates in the country, according to the Government dashboard.

But in a sign of hope, Bolton is starting to see its outbreak slow down.

The seven-day rate in Bolton is down from 452.8 on May 21, suggesting the recent surge in cases driven by the Indian variant may have peaked.Health teams in both local authorities have been running surge testing for the virus, along with “surge vaccinations” to boost take-up among everyone who is eligible for the vaccine.

Dr Helen Wall, senior responsible officer for the Covid vaccine programme in Bolton, told BBC Breakfast: “I’m pleased to report that things are starting to slow in terms of the rise here in Covid cases, but we really can’t rest on that.

“It’s only been a few days of the rates slowing down so we really are keen to keep pushing forwards and get the rates down further.”

Dr Hilary Jones warns Indian variant could delay June 21 Covid Freedom Day with Thailand variant also in UK too

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