June 01, 2021: -Cases of the Covid-19 variant first identified in India have more than doubled in England within one week, the country’s health authority said.
The number of strain cases had reached 6,959 by Wednesday, increasing 3,535 points from the previous week.
The B.1.617.2 variant, a highly contagious triple-mutant strain of the coronavirus, is likely to be more transmissible than the variant first identified in England last fall, Public Health England said Thursday.
According to PHE, Bolton, Bedford, and Blackburn were the most affected areas in England, although it said there were small numbers of cases of the variant in most parts of the country.
Hospitalizations were also rising in some areas, PHE added, noting that most hospital admissions were in unvaccinated people.
Research published by PHE last week showed that two doses of Covid vaccines give people high levels of protection against the B.1.617.2 strain.
Jenny Harries, CEO of the U.K. Health Security Agency said in PHE’s weekly update that the public should continue to act cautiously as Britain eases lockdown restrictions.
“We now know that getting both vaccine doses gives a high degree of protection against this variant, and we urge everyone to have the vaccine,” she said.
“Make sure that you remain careful, work from home if you can, meet people outside where possible, and remember ‘hands, face, space, fresh air at all times.”
The U.K. has begun to tentatively lift lockdown restrictions in recent months, with the government hoping to remove all measures by June 21.
However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned that the country “may need to wait” for a complete return to normality. Although he told the BBC on Thursday, there was nothing “currently in the data” to suggest the June unlocking would be derailed.
Johnson announced earlier this month that the U.K. would accelerate second vaccine doses for people over age 50 and clinically vulnerable to combat the spread of the B.1.617.2 strain.
On May 22, 883 people were in the hospital with Covid in the U.K., a massive drop from January’s peak of 39,249.