UK Faces a Surge in Cases of Indian COVID Variant

indian variant rises in UK
Source: Alastair Grant/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press.

In just a week, the number of cases of the Indian COVID variant has doubled in the UK to nearly 7,000.

In a press conference on Thursday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced a rise in the cases of the Indian COVID variant in the UK. Furthermore, he stated that up to 75% of new cases in the country are a result of the variant. Since last week, cases of the variant have gone up from 3,535 to 6,959. It is gradually replacing the UK variant that was discovered in Kent in December of last year.

The variant first identified in India, so-called B.1.617.2, is still spreading. And the latest estimates are that more than half and potentially as many as three-quarters of all new cases are now of this variant.

Matt Hancock, UK Health Secretary

Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) labelled the Indian COVID variant as a variant of global concern. The variant, also called B.1.617.2, was first discovered in October in India. It is deemed responsible for driving one of the deadliest waves of infections in the country. Moreover, the highly transmissible variant has spread to over 30 countries across the world. Now it seems to be wreaking havoc in the UK.

Delay in the Lifting of Restrictions?

According to Public Health England (PHE), the majority of the new cases have occurred among unvaccinated people. Therefore, health authorities are urging people to get fully vaccinated. Moreover, testing efforts have also been boosted in areas with the highest number of cases. This includes Bedford, Bolton, and Blackburn with Darwen.

The UK is set to enter its final stage of lockdown easing on 21 June. This will lift the restrictions on large events, and the sport industry among others. However, the rise in cases of the variant has raised concerns about whether the country will go ahead with its plans of lifting restrictions. According to Matt Hancock, it is too early to say whether they will go ahead with their plans. But Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains optimistic about the decision.

I don’t see anything currently in the data to suggest that we have to deviate from the roadmap, but we may need to wait for

Boris Johnson, British Prime Minister


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