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COVID-19: New measures to combat ‘Indian variant’

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The new variant is causing concern The new variant is causing concern

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has outlined new actions to control the coronavirus variant first identified in India which is beginning to spread in the UK.

The B1.617.2 variant of concern is beginning to spread increasingly rapidly in certain areas across the country and action is being taken to further control its spread including additional surge testing, increased genomic sequencing and enhanced contact tracing. A new Surge Rapid Response Team is being deployed in Bolton, additional surge testing will shortly launch in areas such as Formby, and enhanced contact tracing is in place across England. Ministers are also considering a range of options which could include bringing forward second doses for eligible groups.

Read more: New testing centre to fast-track variant vaccines

‘This data demonstrates why our swift and decisive measures are in place,’ said Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock.

‘Everyone has a part to play in controlling this variant, from participating in surge testing, to following the rules, to getting the jab. We are committed to working with local areas and deploying our world-leading genomic sequencing to get this variant under control. We are supporting areas where the cases of this variant are rising.’

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. These teams were used recently in the London borough of Lambeth, where support was deployed hours after being requested. Over 5000 households were visited in Lambeth over three days, helping many more residents to access testing.

Read more: 50 million doses of vaccine administered in UK

‘We are monitoring the situation very carefully and will not hesitate to take further action if necessary,’ added Mr Hancock.

'It is imperative we all continue to be vigilant, and if you live in one of the 15 areas where we’ve introduced surge testing, make sure you get a free PCR test. And everyone who’s eligible needs to come forward and get a jab.’

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