To pinpoint where the Delta variant has been found in England, surge testing is taking place around the country.
The new Covid-19 variant, first discovered in India, has been named the ‘Delta’ variant by the World Health Organisation (WHO). It found its way to the UK in March but at the moment. the Pfizer, Moderna and Oxford vaccines are thought to protect against it. This new variant may still put the UK back into lockdown in the future, however, with the government considering a delay to lockdown ending on June 21.
Now the dominant variant in four different areas of England, with some councils under local lockdown restrictions, those living in places where the variant has been found will be expected to take up more testing and containment measures to fight the virus.
Where has the Delta variant been found in the UK?
Every local authority council in England now has cases of the new Delta variant, apart from the Isles of Scilly, according to Public Health England. Although infections are most common in the north west of England, cases are now spread out across the country.
The local councils where further measures have been put in place to combat the spread of Covid-19:
- Blackburn with Darwen
- Leicester City
- London (Hounslow)
- North Tyneside
- Ribble Valley
- South Ribble
- West Lancashire
Those living in areas of concern will have been alerted that surge testing is taking place. This is either conducted by door-to-door healthcare workers or personally, with a lateral flow test and if positive, a follow-up PCR test. Researchers have also outlined new symptoms of the Delta variant for people to look out for.
The NHS has also been working to call up more people for their first vaccination. Recently, in Bolton alone, 6,200 people had their first jab early. The rise in new variants is also partially why children may get the Covid vaccine soon as although they are rarely unwell themselves, young people can pass on the virus to others.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed the growing danger of the new variant. He said, “We must be humble in the face of this virus. We’ve all learnt over the past year that in a pandemic, we must not just look at where we are today but where the evidence shows we may be in weeks and months down the track.”
In most parts of England, cases of the Delta variant are doubling every 4.5 to 11.5 days. The West Midlands and Yorkshire are experiencing the fastest growing rates of the virus, according to Public Health England. However, the new variant is still most prominent in the North West of England. Blackburn and Darwen had the highest seven-day infection rate, ending on June 9. Health officials in the area recorded 1,082 positive cases per 100,000 people.
Bolton and Rossendale also have high case numbers, coming in at 797 and 672 respectively for the same week.
The areas around these hotspots are also now seeing a huge increase in the number of Delta cas.es. Of the 291 local authorities who recorded five or more cases in the last week, infections had increased in 177 of them. Cheshire West and Chester, Gateshead and Leeds all had the largest growth.
In May, Matt Hancock added that the majority of the pople in hospital with Covid-19 in Bolton were eligible to have a vaccine – but had not had one.
“This shows the new variant is not tending to penetrate into older, vaccinated groups and it underlines again the importance of getting the jab.”
The emergence of this new variant comes just as the majority of social restrictions lifting in the UK, following the last lockdown review on May 17. From this date, groups of six or two households have been able to meet indoors and up to 30 can meet outside.
Where is the Delta variant in London?
The Delta variant has been found in all London boroughs, however, these are where cases are most high:
- Hillingdon (surge testing is targeting areas within the HA4 postcode in Ruislip).
- Hackney (surge testing is targeting areas in Shoreditch and Dalston).
- Kingston Upon Thames
- Redbridge (surge testing is taking place in areas within the IG1 and IG6 postcode areas and small parts of the IG5 and IG7 postcode areas).
- Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (surge testing is targeting areas within the W11 postcode).
London mayor Sadiq Khan confirmed the presence of the virus in five London boroughs. PHE, however, said that actually there are clusters of the new variant across the whole of the capital.
A spokesperson for PHE told the i paper that London should expect further surge testing in the coming days, as the new variant is “pretty well spread in terms of distribution”.
They also confirmed that 105 of the 400 confirmed cases of the new variant in London were to do with travel. “The vast majority of the rest” came from household transmission or “very close contacts of those people who have travelled.”
“We’ll probably see more surge testing across the country for the Delta variant as we go down the line,” They added, following the news from scientists last week that the new strain could very well become dominant across the whole of the UK.