19 cases of fast-spreading Indian variant of Covid-19 now detected in North East
The Indian variant of Covid-19 has now been detected 19 times across the North East – though numbers here remain the lowest of anywhere in England.
According to new Public Health England (PHE) data, several positive virus cases involving the fast-spreading mutation now have been identified around the region – amounting to 1.5% of the total number of current cases here.
Three of the cases are travel-related, health officials confirmed, while PHE added that the North East’s figure is the lowest of any English region.
However, no further information has been provided on where exactly those 19 are. The number covers all of Newcastle, Northumberland, Gateshead, North and South Tyneside, Sunderland, County Durham, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, Stockton, Hartlepool, and Darlington.
North East councils were asked by the Local Democracy Reporting Service on Thursday to provide details of how many cases of the Indian variant had been detected in their area so far.
Only Sunderland City Council did so, confirming there were no cases there.
The India variant is one of four strains designated as “of concern” by UK authorities, as well as those which emerged from Kent, South Africa and Brazil, and it is feared that they could be more resistant to vaccines and pose a threat to lockdown easing plans.
But PHE said there was “currently no evidence that this variant causes more severe illness, increased risk of mortality or makes the current vaccines any less effective”.
Prof Peter Kelly, Regional Director of Public Health England North East, said: “As we progress through the roadmap variants are likely to be part of how we live with COVID-19 and it is vital that we adapt and respond to the changing nature of the virus to protect our region and North East communities.
“We are not seeing many cases of the Indian Variant of Concern in the North East compared to other parts of the country; however, we must not be complacent with this or any other variant.
“Our public health advice to everyone remains the same: the best way to stop the spread of the virus is to follow the guidelines – remember hands, face, space and fresh air, get vaccinated and take up the offer of regular testing.
“It is more important than ever that people come forward for PCR testing and to isolate when they have symptoms, no matter how mild, in order to find cases and break chains of transmission and have asymptomatic testing when requested by their local health protection and public health teams. Everyone can order free rapid tests to their home.
“If everyone plays their part by continuing to follow the health advice in their area, we can help to break the chain of transmission and protect our loved ones.”
North Tyneside Council this week confirmed that at least eight Covid cases had been linked to an outbreak among staff at the Allard’s Lounge bar in Tynemouth – one of which was found to be carrying the Indian mutation of concern.
All customers who visited Allard’s Lounge, in Front Street, between April 23 and May 3 are being urged to get tested.
Newcastle City Council also confirmed that the fast-spreading strain had been detected in the city.