Cases of Indian Covid variant in UK triple to 400 – as two new strains investigated

CASES of the Indian coronavirus variant have tripled to over 400 in the UK, new data shows.

It comes after Public Health England (PHE) last night revealed that two new strains were being investigated.

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The latest update means that there are now 13 variants of concern or under investigation in the UK.

PHE stated that the vast majority of cases were linked to international travel and that there was no evidence that the strain had spread across this country.

There are two new variants under investigation named B.1.617.2 – with 202 cases and B.1.617.3 with five cases.

The data shows another 61 cases of the original strain  (B.1.617) , first listed by the government on April 21.

Experts at PHE said that there is currently no evidence that these variants cause more severe disease or render the vaccines currently deployed any less effective. 

It is currently carrying out increased laboratory testing, in collaboration with international partners so that scientists can better understand how the virus mutates and how it behaves.

This is turn will allow experts to work out what action should be taken, if any.

Cases of the variant have increased yet again, after it was last week revealed that they had risen by 75 per cent.

Public health officials in India have claimed that soaring case rates in the country could be down to a new "triple mutant" – but it's not yet clear if it is more infectious and if it can evade vaccines.

The government had previously deployed surge testing in various areas across the country in order to find cases of the South African and Brazilian variant.

The new data shows that cases of the South African variant have also increased by 67 to 737.

This could be due to the fact that thousands of tests were deployed in areas of London such as Wandsworth in order to detect cases of the virus.

Earlier this week surge testing ended in these areas and officials said the strain had not spread significantly.

On Wednesday it was reported that three cases of the India variant had been discovered in Leicester.

Information on the breakdown of where each case has been discovered is not available, but most are in England.

 

But cases are thought to be several times higher, due to the fact not all positive Covid test samples are screened to check what variant they were caused by.

Today the Indian health ministry reported a further 3,498  Covid deaths, with infections in the country now totalling 18.7 million.

Covid-19 strategic response director at PHE, Susan Hopkins said case numbers of both new variants under investigation remain low and investigations continue into links with international travel.

She added: "There is no evidence of widespread community transmission or that these variants cause more severe disease or render the vaccines currently deployed any less effective."

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