The variant – B.1.617.2 – was detected in 151 local authorities during the week ending May 15, a weekly increase of 18%, according to figures from the Wellcome Sanger Institute which sequences a random sample of positive tests in the community.
In 37 local communities, the Indian variant was detected for the first time during the most recent week for which data are available.
Meanwhile, 28 local authority regions that previously identified a case of the Indian variant had none in the most recent week.
Genome data, where only about half of all cases are sequenced for variants, showed that more than 100 local authorities had fewer than five cases of the Indian variant.
The latest data from Public Health England also revealed that a total of 3,424 cases had been confirmed in the UK through May 19, with a majority detected only the week before.
The variant should eventually become the dominant form of COVID-19, according to Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty.
Although cases continue to increase in Bolton, Blackburn with Darwen and Bedford – the three regions with the highest number of Indian variant infections – the growth rate of the variant slowed last week compared to the previous week .
The three areas were also among eight where the government had previously said people should not enter or exit unless necessary.
The government has now backed down on his advice Following widespread confusion amid concerns, local lockdowns were being imposed “stealthily”.
Bolton, Blackburn with Darwen and Bedford have also seen a sharp rise in COVID-19 infections of all variants in younger age groups since the start of April.
Scientists believe that B.1.617.2 does not cause more severe disease than the currently dominant Kent variant, and the indications are that the vaccines are also effective.
But government advisory body SAGE believes there is a “realistic possibility” that transmissibility could be 50% higher.
Experts say it could lead to a sharp increase in cases and hospitalizations if no restrictions are imposed.
Last week, Matt Hancock hasn’t ruled out imposing a local lockdown restrictions in places most affected by the Indian variant.
The health secretary also said surge tests would be carried out in most areas where the Indian variant has been detected.