South East England areas in urgent Covid test call – new Indian variant cases

Hancock: Three-quarters of new Covid cases are Indian variant

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Surge testing is being rolled out and extended to new areas of Berkshire after cases of the Indian or “Delta” variant have been found to be dangerously spreading in the community. People over 12 in the specific postcode areas of Reading and Wokingham, Berkshire, are being urged to take a test.

During the next two weeks, and starting on Monday, people will be offered a PCR test.

Cases of the Indian variant, now named the Delta variant by the WHO, have doubled in a week in Berkshire.

Everyone aged 12 living, working or going to school in the targeted areas is strongly encouraged to take a test, whether or not they have any Covid symptoms.

Anyone who tested positive for Covid-19 in the last 90 days using a PCR test should not come forward for surge testing.

The councils said anyone should have the test, even if they do not have symptoms, have been vaccinated or been taking regular Lateral Flow Tests.

NHS Test ad Trace said that additional testing will be offered in postcodes RG1 3, RG1 5, RG1 6 and RG1 7 in Reading and in the Bulmershe and Whitegates, Evendons, Norreys, and Wescott areas of Wokingham

Director of public health for Berkshire West, Meradin Peachey, said cases are mostly among young people, with “virtually nobody over 60 or anyone who has been vaccinated” and described the move as “precautionary”.

She said: “What’s happened in the last couple of weeks, especially in the last week, we’ve noticed that a lot of cases now coming through we can’t link to any travellers, which means we now have community transmission.”

She said that a “big concern” is that continued spread could potentially lead to more mutations.

“If the variant spreads and becomes even more, it may mutate again and the big concern is that vaccines won’t work and that’s my big concern,” she explained.

“We really want to get people tested and isolated if they’ve got the virus, stop the spread so that we can make sure the vaccination programme works.”

Public Health England announced last week that the Indian variant is now the dominant strain in the UK after seeing a rise in cases of 79% from the previous week.

However, chief executive of NHS Providers Chris Hopson said the number of people in hospital with the variant has not increased “very significantly”.

He said that many of those currently in hospital in Bolton – which has the highest number of Indian variant cases – were younger than in previous waves.

“The people who came in this time round were actually a lot younger and were a lot less at risk of very serious complication, less at risk of death, and what that means is that they were less demand on critical care,” he explained.

He continued: “What we think we can start to say now, based on that experience, is that it does look as though the vaccines have broken the chain between catching Covid-19 and potentially being very, very seriously ill and potentially dying.

“Infection rates have been increasing in a number of different places.

“We know that the hospitalisations are increasing, the rates of people coming into hospital in those areas are rising. But they are not rising very significantly,” he said.

Although the Indian variant numbers have gone up, the vaccine rollout hit milestones last week with almost 40million first doses delivered.

Currently in the UK, three-quarters of the adult population have now received at least one jab of the Covid-19 vaccine.

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