Covid: Indian variant cases in 86 council areas – Hancock

There are now 86 local authorities with five or more confirmed cases of the Indian Covid variant, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said.

“This isn’t just about Bolton and Blackburn,” he said, referring to the areas seeing a spike in cases.

It comes as millions of people can now enjoy new freedoms as lockdown is eased in England, Wales and most of Scotland.

But the government has warned its next review of social distancing rules may be delayed.

No 10 said the Indian variant “could pose a threat” to the process of deciding whether all remaining lockdown restrictions could be eased on 21 June.

“There are now 86 local authorities where there are five or more confirmed cases.”

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Mr Hancock told the House of Commons there were now 2,323 confirmed cases of the Indian variant in the UK.

This means there has been a 77% increase in confirmed cases of the variant over the last five days.

“There are now 86 local authorities where there are five or more confirmed cases,” he said. There are 343 local authorities in England.

Mr Hancock said the Indian variant was now the dominant strain of the virus in Bolton as well as Blackburn and Darwen and was rising in all age groups.

He said most people in hospital in those areas had been eligible for a vaccine but had chosen not to have it – and urged anyone not sure whether to get jabbed to “look at what’s happening in Bolton”.

Bedford was also fast becoming a hotspot for the variant, Mr Hancock said, and surge testing would be rolled out there.

Scientists believe the Indian variant does spread more easily, but early data suggests vaccines still work. The exact impact on vaccine efficacy – if any – is yet to be confirmed.

People aged 37 and over in England will be able to get the vaccine from Tuesday, he said – and the rollout would continue to be expanded later in the week.

Tears as hugs allowed

The lockdown changes on Monday – which are different in England, Wales and Scotland – have seen thousands of people heading off on foreign holidays, flocking to bingo halls and drinking inside pubs again.

People have also been allowed to hug loved ones as social distancing guidance was changed. Hospital ward manager Viv Hudson, 58, wept with joy as she finally hugged her daughter, Theresa Fox, for the first time in more than a year.

“It’s a bit weird – but a good kind of weird. I’ve missed this so much,” said Theresa, 38, who also works for the NHS.


Hospital ward manager Viv Hudson, 58, wept with joy as she finally hugged her NHS worker daughter Theresa Fox this afternoon



Cinema audiences watch Nomadland inside a movie theatre screen at Chapter, Cardiff, as indoor hospitality and entertainment venues reopen to the public following the further easing of lockdown restrictions in Wales.

image copyrightPA Media

Latest figures show another 1,976 cases have been recorded across the UK and a further five people have died.

The number of people who have received their first vaccine dose has topped 36.7 million, while more than 20.2 million second doses have been given.


Daily stats graphic

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