Indian Covid variant reaches 40% of regions – latest maps & graphs reveal extent of spread
India variant ‘appears to affect children more’ says health official
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The India variant has overtaken the Kent strain in 23 local authorities, with cases now reported in 40 percent of English regions according to the latest positive test data from the Wellcome Sanger Institute. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has stressed the roadmap out of lockdown will not be affected despite the concerning Covid variant circulating the country – but as ever, things could change at the very last minute. Appearing to shift his language slightly by claiming there is no “conclusive” evidence to suggest the roadmap will be altered or delayed, Mr Johnson said things would become clearer in “a few days”. He said: “We are looking at the epidemiology the whole time as it comes in and, at the moment, partly because we have built up such a wall of defence with the vaccination programme, I don’t see anything conclusive at the moment to say that we need to deviate from the road map.”
The Prime Minister added: “But we’ve got to be cautious and we are keeping everything under very close observation.”
The Department of Health (DoH) recorded on Monday another 2,412 positive test results and seven deaths, with fatalities falling 65 percent from last Tuesday and cases down 2.5 percent.
Another 106,733 people received their first jab dose on Monday as well alongside 259,049 second doses, bringing the total vaccinated population to more than 20.5million and more than 36.8million having had at least a first dose.
The Wellcome Sanger Institute, one of the UK’s largest variant testing labs, is behind the latest data for the Indian variant spread and checks more than half of all the country’s samples to spot mutations.
Data excludes findings from door-to-door surge testing and travellers’ tests, allowing it to reflect which variants are spreading within the community rather than cases brought in from abroad.
The staggering findings revealed the India variant was detected in 127 local authorities in England in the 14 days ending May 8 – equivalent to 40 percent.
On a national basis, there have been 2,323 cases of the imported strain, four times greater than the 520 recorded just ten days ago.
The India variant is understood to now make up at least one in five of all new infections, with London and the north west experiencing the biggest surge in infection rates.
Merseyside’s Sefton had the highest proportion of infections as a result of the variant, with nine in 10 of all cases (99 out of 110 cases checked) in the week leading to May 8 – showing a four times increase on the previous seven days.
In Bolton, 85 percent of cases are believed to be down to the variant (289 out of a total 337).
DoH data shows Bolton is fighting the biggest Covid outbreak in the country after recording 814 cases over the last seven days as of Tuesday, May 18, bringing its total infection rate to 283.1 out of 100,000 people.
Next is Blackburn with Darwen, showing 83 percent of cases (110 out of 132) cases stemming from the India strain, with south Northamptonshire behind at 75 percent of cases (24 out of 32).
Bedford and Blackburn are big hotspots for the strain and have the second and third biggest outbreaks in the country, respectively, with rates of 122.9 and 114.9 per 100,000.
London isn’t faring too well with the new strain either as mayor Sadiq Khan urged the Government to speed up the roll-out in parts of the capital with spiking infection rates.
Croydon in south-west London has seen 82 percent of cases, or 14 out of 17, as a direct result of the new strain, which saw infections rise by an estimated 150 percent in a single week.
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Hounslow in east London has 72 percent of overall cases (21 out of 29) coming in from the new strain, while Hillingdon isn’t far behind with 69 percent or nine out of 13.
South-east London’s Greenwich is next with 64 percent (nine out of 14), followed by Camden’s 62 percent (five out of eight), 54 percent in Bromley (six out of 11) and half of all cases in Brent equate to 12 in every 24.
Across London, one fifth of all boroughs have more than 50 percent of cases as of May 8, while nearby Chelmsford in Essex saw 85 percent of cases stem from the variant, equivalent to 11 out of 13.
Fewer than 10 cases of the variant were sequenced in the following areas:
West Lancashire – 60 percent, or three out of five
Stevenage – two cases
Oadby and Wigston – two cases
Broxbourne – three cases
Dartford – four cases
Sevenoaks – 67 percent, or two out of three
Canterbury – 50 percent, or four out of eight
Rushmoor – 83 percent, or five out of six
Hart – 75 percent, or three out of four
Speaking on Monday, May 17, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said there were wight people in hospital with the India variant in Blackburn, describing admissions as “stable”.
Bolton’s hospitals have seen 19 new patients with some in intensive care, leading many to criticise the Government’s border policy which many see as an enabler for variants to enter the country.
Dominic Cumming, former senior aide to the Prime Minister, criticised Whitehall’s slow approach to border control, branding the policy as a “joke” because of its “refusal” to learn from protection measures implemented in East Asian countries.
The Government is under intense scrutiny and pressure to explain why there was such a big lag in adding India to the red list of countries, while other countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh which showed fewer cases at the time were swiftly blacklisted.
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