The Delta variant, also known as the Indian variant, has overtaken the Kent variant to become the dominant strain of coronavirus in the UK, according to Public Health England (PHE). The number of confirmed cases to 2 June shot up to 12,431 – a rise of 79% from the previous week’s total of 6,959.
Responding to the new data, Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, said: ‘With this variant now dominant across the UK, it remains vital that we all continue to exercise as much caution as possible.
‘The way to tackle variants is to tackle the transmission of COVID-19 as a whole. Work from home where you can, and practice 'hands, face, space, fresh air' at all times.
In a further concerning development, England’s R number (the measure of the average number of people one infected person will go on to infect) has risen slightly to between 1 and 1.2. This means that COVID infections are growing at a daily rate of between 0% and 3%.
North-west England had the highest proportion of people of any region in England likely to test positive for coronavirus in the week to 29 May: around one in 280. Confirmed cases of the Delta variant in Bolton have risen by 795 over the past week to 2,149, and the borough of Blackburn with Darwen has seen a near doubling of cases to 724 in total. Despite this, the NHS has refused requests to provide extra vaccines for the area. A decision which Blackburn MP Kate Hollern said ‘beggars belief’.
‘Without further surge vaccinations, the NHS will be placed under overwhelming and unnecessary pressure – the government’s inaction could cause entirely avoidable deaths across Lancashire,’ warned Ms Hollern.