Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the variant was spreading and the latest estimates show it accounted for more than half – and possibly up to three-quarters – of all new COVID cases.
The worrying variant B.1.617.2, believed to be more transmissible than the Kent variant which became dominant in the country after Christmas, has resulted in surge testing and vaccinations in many areas.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock, speaking at a press conference in Downing Street, said: “The variant first identified in India, called B.1.617.2, continues to spread.
“And the latest estimates are that more than half and potentially up to three-quarters of all new cases are now of this variant.
“As we set our roadmap, we always expected the cases to increase. We must remain vigilant. “
Data from Public Health England (PHE) shows the worst affected areas remain Bolton, Bedford and Blackburn with Darwen, which have recorded 1,354, 366 and 361 confirmed cases, respectively.
The Health Secretary said last week 17,140 doses of the vaccine had been distributed in Bolton, and praised residents of the city of Greater Manchester, describing the response there as “a model to cope without have to resort to a local locking ” .
Case rates in Bolton have increased since the start of the month, but have stagnated at around 450 cases per 100,000 in the past three days.
According to the latest PHE data, the vast majority of people infected with the Indian variant are not vaccinated.
Out of 5,599 cases of the variant since February 1, 2021, 3,367 infected people had not received a single dose. Only 177 of the cases involved people fully vaccinated with both doses.
Unvaccinated people accounted for 29 of 43 hospital admissions. Only one was fully vaccinated and eight of the 12 deaths were unvaccinated.
Previously, Health Secretary Matt Hancock had said the link between COVID-19 cases, hospital admissions and deaths was ‘broken’ but it was too early to say whether lifting social restrictions June 21 would continue.
Mr Hancock told MPs that Wednesday’s figure of 3,180 new coronavirus cases was perhaps ‘the highest since April 12’ but the vaccines were working.
That figure has since been exceeded, with the UK today reporting 10 new deaths 3,542 additional cases of the disease and 10 new deaths within 28 days of a positive COVID-19 test.
Former government chief science adviser Neil Ferguson said on Wednesday it could be another “Two to three weeks” before it is clear whether the final step in lifting the lock can be done safely.
Dr Jennie Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, told the press conference that this was at stake.
She said: “I think it’s really, really fair at dawn right now. If we are seeing cases increasing, we are not yet sure if this is an increase in cases of variants taking off or if it is in fact an increase because we are actively detecting them, and rightly so. and question these chains of transmission.«
The final step in easing the lockout, which is set for June 21, is crucial for players in the arts, sports and hospitality industries, who are hoping their sectors can start to return to normal.
Sky News analysis on Tuesday revealed that 121 local authority areas in England had seen an increase growth rates of the worrisome variant of the Indian coronavirus. Many of the updated figures are published in the table above, but are not as detailed as the figures from two days ago.
The increase in the number of cases of the Indian variant has led to the imposition of travel restrictions on Britons wishing to travel abroad, with France introduces compulsory quarantine for people arriving from the UK and other countries imposing other measures.
An upsurge in cases in some areas has caused confusion among eight local authorities who, over the weekend, found that government guidelines had been issued advising against travel across their borders.
The uncertainty created by the additional guidance – which many authorities said they were not aware of – force the government to change its mind for residents, telling them to minimize travel in and out of affected areas.