Where is the Indian variant in the UK? From London to Bolton – map reveals surge testing hotspots

THE INDIAN variant is spreading across the UK and cases of the strain have doubled in a week with surge testing having been rolled out in several areas.

More than 800,000 PCR kits have been distributed after more than 4,000 cases have been detected.

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There are several areas in the North West of England where testing has now been deployed after cases were found.

One expert today said the Indian variant "clearly has been out-competing" the Kent variant in a number of areas around the UK.

The Kent variant, known as the B.1.1.7 variant was one of the main contributing factors to the third national coronavirus lockdown.

The B1.617.2 variant of concern is beginning to spread increasingly rapidly in certain areas across the country and decisive action is being taken to further control its spread.

Cases have more than doubled in the space of seven days from 520 last week to 1,313 this, sparking alarm in Whitehall.

Professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia, Prof Paul Hunter today said: "It's now in most regions of the UK, with the possible exception of Yorkshire and Humber in the North East, which seem to have very few cases so far."

When it comes to testing for the Indian variant, surge testing has been rolled out in Bolton in Greater Manchester, Sefton in Merseyside and Blackburn and Darwen in Lancashire.

It was previously reported that cases of the virus had also been detected in London, particularly in Tower Hamlets.

And while surge testing is currently taking place in several areas across the capital, these have been specifically rolled out to catch cases of the South African variant.

But the Department of Health said this didn't rule out the surge testing also catching cases of the Indian variant if they were detected.

Over 200 existing test sites and 130 schools have distributed test kits, with Mobile Testing Units deployed to provide PCR testing for people without symptoms.

The Surge Rapid Response Team in Bolton will include 100 nurses, public health advisers and environmental health officers,  and will provide support to the local authority through door to door testing and encouraging residents to take a PCR test.

PHE said there is currently "insufficient evidence" to indicate that any of the Indian variants cause more severe disease.


However it is not yet clear as to whether or not the virus can evade vaccines.

Public health officials in Blackburn said it would bolster its vaccine roll out to help protect people amid the spread of the variant.

Vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi today said that one option is "flexing" the vaccine rollout to deliver extra jabs to the worst affected parts of the country.

Ministers are looking at the possibility of vaccinating whole intergenerational households in those areas regardless of age.

Another possibility is speeding up the delivery of second doses to give more people a greater level of protection.

Boris Johnson has said No 10 is "anxious" about the spread of the variant and that there "may be things we have to do locally" to stop it.

He added the Government "will not hesitate" to act as "we want to make sure we take all the cautious steps now that we could take."

Prof Hunter added: "It seems to be a little bit more resistant from the early indications, from what people are saying who are doing this sort of work.

"Not as resistant as the South African variant, but a little bit more resistant than the Kent variant.

"And when you look at the numbers of cases that we're seeing, it is predominantly increasing in those people who are of an age that won't really have had much access to vaccines so far."

In the Formby area, Merseyside, NHS Test and Trace is urging everyone over the age of 16 to take a PCR Covid test.

A Department of Health spokesman said people in Formby with confirmed cases of the B.1.617 variant, which originated in India, have self-isolated.


Their contacts are currently being identified.

Formby, which has a population of around 22,000 people in the Sefton area, is about 13 miles from Liverpool.

While there are areas in the North West where surge testing is in place to catch the Indian variant, the majority of sites are looking out for the South African strain.

In London, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Redbridge, Tower Hamlets and Kensington all have surge testing.

In the West Midlands, Birmingham and Redditch have also deployed testing units.

The most recent data from Public Health England (PHE) states that cases of the virus are now rising in 159 areas in the UK.

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Bolton in Greater Manchester has the highest rate, with 553 new cases in the seven days to May 9 – the equivalent of 192.3 cases per 100,000 people.

This is up from 84.9 in the seven days to May 2.

Erewash in Derbyshire has the second highest rate, up from 65.0 to 181.2, with 209 new cases.

Blackburn with Darwen in Lancashire has the third highest, up from 54.1 to 107.6, with 161 new cases.

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