SIX new Delta variant hotspots have been hit with travel restrictions to stop the spread of the mutation.
Residents in Birmingham, Blackpool, Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, Liverpool City Region and Warrington must “minimise travel”.
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The hotspots have been given an “additional support package” – including surge testing, tracing, isolation support and maximising vaccine uptake.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “We are doing everything we can to stop the spread of the Delta variant, and working with local authorities, we are providing a strengthened package of support in areas where cases of the variant are increasing.
“We know this approach has made a real impact in South London and in Bolton where we have seen it stall rising cases.
“I urge people living these areas to get tested, come forward for your vaccine as soon as you are eligible and make sure to get the all-important second jab – that is how we will beat this virus.”
Under the new rules people are urged to meet outside rather than at home and to keep two metres apart from those outside their household.
They should also “minimise travel in and out of affected areas” and keep working from home where possible.
The new guidance is not legally binding and doesn’t mean the areas are being put back into a local lockdown.
Support available to local areas will include:
- Additional resources to help local authorities with testing, logistics, planning and workforce to assist with testing, door-to-door visits to engage with residents and other activities. These may come from the Surge Rapid Response Teams, from military aid or other sources depending on requirements.
- Wastewater testing samples being prioritised for sequencing;
- Specialist communications support to increase awareness and focus engagement with disadvantaged groups;
- Maximising vaccine uptake by expanding existing channels, developing new capacity and increasing local and targeted communications to reach different communities;
- Supervised in-school testing and discretion to reintroduce face coverings in indoor communal areas and classrooms in schools if they and directors of public health decide it is appropriate;
- Surge testing and enhanced contact tracing; and
- Enhanced monitoring (genomic sequencing, genotype assay testing
Chief Executive of the UK Health Security Agency Dr Jenny Harries said: “The Delta variant is now the dominant strain across the UK, with cases continuing to rise in some areas.
“People in these areas can help protect their community by remaining cautious, by working from home if possible and remembering to practise hands, face, space and fresh air.
“Getting the vaccine gives a strong level of protection against this variant and I strongly recommend that everyone gets both jabs when the NHS invites you – it will protect you and your loved ones.”
In those spots, the Army was sent in to help with a huge new jabbing drive in a mirror of measures introduced in neighbouring Bolton last month.
Similar emergency measures have helped turn the tide in Bolton, which was the first major Indian variant hotspot in the country.
The Delta variant is now the dominant strain across the UK, with cases continuing to rise in some areas.
Dr Jenny Harries
After an explosion in cases it has now got the outbreak under control and is now seeing a steady drop in new infections.
But the variant has already spread to neighbouring areas which are seeing skyrocketing numbers.
It comes as the Prime Minister will today announce June 21 won’t be the hoped for “Freedom Day”.
This is due to rapidly rising cases of the Delta variant, first identified in India, and an increase of hospitalisations.
A leading professor said the Delta variant seems to “working slightly differently”, with different symptoms to the classic cough and loss of smell.
However, it could be because Covid is currently causing an epidemic in young people, and symptoms are known to vary by age group.
The ZOE Covid Symptom Study has been tracking the Covid outbreak since March 2020, with millions of Brits reporting their symptoms on an app.
Prof Tim Spector, the lead on the study, told The Telegraph: “Since the start of May, we’ve been looking at the top symptoms and they are not the same as they were.
“Number one is headache followed by sore throat, runny nose and fever.”