21.05.2022

Covid cases rapidly rising in areas where India variant prevalent

Data recorded between 6 and 12 May and published on Wednesday showed 158 local councils where the case rate per 100,000 people is trending upwards.

Covid-19 cases are rising rapidly in areas where the Indian strain of the virus is highly prevalent, an analysis of Public Health England local authority data shows.

In Bolton, where the more transmissible B.1.617.2 strain was described by health secretary Matt Hancock as dominant, cases have jumped to 275 per 100,000 people.

That is up from 120 per 100,000 people on 12 May, with that data being recorded between 29 April and 5 May.

Over the same period of time and same incidence rate, cases in Bedford have risen from 57 to 122. In Blackburn with Darwen cases went from 74 to 118.

Out of the remaining council areas of the 157 cited above, all had lower levels of infection but the new cases were trending upwards.

On Tuesday, Mr Hancock said there were 86 local authorities that had five or more confirmed cases of the Indian variant.

Ministers have previously said that there is currently no evidence to suggest that the strain evades vaccines or causes more severe disease in those it affects.

It remains at this stage unclear what impact the Indian variant is having on the vaccinated and those who have chosen not to have a jab.

Mr Hancock earlier this week said most people in hospital in Bolton had been eligible for a vaccine but did not take up the offer.

According to government figures released on 9 May, 11 people had been admitted to Bolton Hospital in the previous seven days, up four from the previous week.

NHS sources on the ground have told The Independent only one extra Covid patient had been admitted to hospital in the past 24 hours.

A source said the hospital now has 25 patients in total, up from 19 a week ago. Five of those are receiving intensive care or in a high dependency ward, with 23 patients on oxygen.

At a national level, there were 72 people admitted to hospital in England on 16 May, up from 70 the day before. In total, there are 749 patients in hospitals across the country, down from 798 on the day before.

The figures come just days after travel rules were relaxed in England, allowing holidaymakers to jet off to a number of countries on the government’s green and amber lists.

In a day of mass miscommunication on Tuesday, which critics said descended into farce, prime minister Boris Johnson warned that Britons should not travel to ‘amber’ list destinations – just hours after one of his own cabinet ministers caused confusion by claiming it was acceptable to visit countries like France and Spain to see friends.

Mr Johnson said it was “very important” people understood the government’s new traffic light system. ‘Amber’ list countries should not be considered holiday destinations, he said.

“It is not somewhere you should be going on holiday, let me be very clear about that,” he added.

“If people do go to an amber list country – if they absolutely have to for some pressing family or urgent business reason – … please bear in mind that you will have to self isolate, you will have to take tests and do a passenger locator form and all the rest of it.”

India, where the B.1.617.2 strain was first detected, is on the government’s red list, although it emerged on Tuesday night that over 100 direct flights from there had landed in the UK since restrictions were imposed.

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