Government data has shown that four Britons have now died of the Indian strain between May 5 and 12.
How many cases have been detected in London?
Over 30% of identified cases in the UK are in London, followed by 25% in the North West of England, 12% in the East of England, 10% in the East Midlands and 8% in the south-east, according to figures from Public Health England (PHE). .
On Friday May 14, the Hackney Council said the Indian and South African variants had been identified in the areas of Shoreditch and Dalston.
The cases were around Old Street and Great Eastern Street, and in parts of downtown Dalston, around Dalston Lane and Kingsland High Street.
Surge tests and contact tracing are underway in Hackney.
Hackney’s director of public health, Dr Sandra Husbands, explained that viruses are constantly changing by mutation, which can make them spread more easily, be more dangerous, or mean treatments aren’t as effective.
She added, “This is why when a variant of concern is identified in an area, we are working quickly to stop that variant of the virus in its tracks.
“Take the test and help us beat Covid-19. “
Where else do surge tests take place in London?
There are surge tests at five other London sites, following cases of the South African variant.
The HA4 postcode areas in Ruislip are targeted, and in the Borough of Hounslow, targeted testing is used in and around the Woodlands area.
Redbridge Council targets areas in the IG1 and IG6 postcode areas and small portions of the IG5 and IG7 postcode areas.
In Kensington and Chelsea areas with postcode W11 are being tested.
Areas inside E1 postcodes – including in Tower Hamlets – are also using surge testing after the South African and Brazilian variants were found in the East End.
What should you do if you live in an area where the Indian strain has been found?
The government has said that all people over the age of 16 who live or work in affected areas should have a Covid-19 PCR test, even if they do not have symptoms, to help stop the spread of these variants in the region. community.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan told Sky News the government should prioritize immunizing young people in areas where the Indian variant is prevalent.
He said: “What we are saying is to be nimble in pockets where we know there is a problem, use the vaccine sensibly. “
What do we know about the variant and to what extent should we be affected?
B16172, which was first identified in India, is one of four mutated versions of the coronavirus designated as ‘of concern’, such as B1351 (South African variant) and P1 (Brazilian variant).
Experts believe it could be linked to the spike in infections in India and the country’s second wave.
Professor Robert Dingwall, a member of the Nervtag (New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group), said that if B16172 could become the dominant variant in the UK, the risk of increased deaths or hospital admissions remains weak.
He said it appears to be slightly more transmissible and able to outperform the British variant or the South African variant to become the dominant variant in the UK, and that ‘the risk is of a greater number of mild infections. rather than an increased proportion of mild infections. turn into serious “.
Professor Dingwall said: “We have to stop panicking about every new variant that comes along. “
He said data from India shows that people who have been fully vaccinated, such as healthcare workers, do not develop infections.
What did government ministers say?
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said early lab test data suggested the vaccine remains effective against the Indian variant.
However, he told Sky News the strain could “spread like wildfire” among people who are not vaccinated.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week said he was “anxious” about the variant and was not ruling out regional restrictions.
He said: “At the moment there is a very wide range of scientific opinions on what could happen.
“There is a range of things we could do, we’re not ruling out anything. “