India variant: Will there be local restrictions again? Surge testing deployed in Bolton

Andrew Neil discusses Covid booster jabs on This Morning

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Local restrictions may be back on the cards for some areas of the UK as the India variant surges in some parts of the country. More than 1,000 cases of the variant have now been reported throughout the UK, with surge testing deployed in affected areas.

The India variant has been causing concern worldwide following the devastating effect it has had in India.

Experts believe the Indian variant has mutations that may make it more transmissible, but it is not yet known if it causes more severe disease or if it could make current vaccines less effective.

The variant has been designated a variant of concern by Public Health England (PHE).

PHE has recorded 1,313 cases of the Indian variant throughout the UK.

This is a rise in cases from 520 last week in the UK, with PHE saying it is still assessing the impact and severity of the variant.

In India, cases are currently topping an estimated 24 million.

Dr Susan Hopkins, COVID-19 strategic response director at PHE, said: “Cases of this variant are rising in the community and we are continuously monitoring its spread and severity to ensure we take rapid public health action.

“We need to act collectively and responsibly to ensure that variants do not impact on the progress we have all made to drive down levels of Covid-19 and the increased freedom that brings.”

Will there be regional restrictions again?

The surge in cases has led to speculation that parts of England which have been worst hit by the variant will be put under local restrictions, similar to the ones seen in places like Leicester after the first lockdown in March 2020.

Areas like Bolton which have a high case rate of the variant have had NHS mobile testing units deployed.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “It is a variant of concern, we are anxious about it.”

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He added: “There are a range of things we could do, we want to make sure we grip it.

“Obviously there’s surge testing, there’s surge tracing.

“If we have to do other things, then of course the public would want us to rule nothing out.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said the Government “will not hesitate to take further action if necessary”.

Where in the UK have there been cases?

In England, cases of the India variant have been detected in London, Bolton, Tyneside and Nottingham.

There have been at least 12 cases in Northern Ireland so far.

Scotland has reported between 20 and 30 cases, where the variant is suspected to be spreading in Glasgow.

Scotland is currently using a levels system for different areas of the country, unlike England which is reopening in a unified way at present.

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