A NEW Covid variant is under investigation in the UK – as cases of the Indian strain doubled in a week, it has emerged.
Data from Public Health England (PHE) has revealed that there is a new variant under investigation known as C.36.3.
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It was first detected in Thailand in cases of people who had originally travelled from Egypt.
It comes a week after PHE declared the so-called Yorkshire variant a “variant under investigation”, after a new strain emerged in and around Sheffield, bearing 25 mutations.
So far, PHE has detected 109 cases of the new Thai strain in the UK, but officials stressed there is no evidence that the new strain causes more severe disease.
And they stressed there is currently no evidence to suggest the three vaccines being rolled out across the country won’t work against the new Thai strain.
Lab tests are currently being carried out to further understand how the virus behaves.
PHE did not disclose where the cases had been detected but said test and trace has been used to limit the spread.
It comes as the latest PHE figures show there are now 6,959 cases of the Indian variant – up from 3,424 last week.
While it shows cases have doubled in a week, it means the rate of spread has slowed slightly.
In previous weeks, cases were more than doubling in seven days.
It comes as:
Extra measures are still being rolled out in hotspot areas such as Bolton, Bedford and Blackburn with Darwen and a cluster of cases has mainly been seen in the North of England.
Areas across Greater Manchester have also seen a rise in cases as the Indian variant continues to takes hold.
In Bolton there are 1,354 cases of the variant, and surge testing and extra vaccine capacity has been rolled out.
The army has been rolled out in the area and has visited over 4,000 houses, deploying over 1,500 test kits.
In Bedford there are 366 cases of the Indian variant and in Blackburn with Darwen there are 361.
PHE added that there are a small number of cases in most parts of the country.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock this evening said that people getting their jabs is the “best way” out of the pandemic.
He said cases of the Indian variant remain focused in “hotspots” where surge testing and extra vaccinations have been rolled out to combat it.
Addressing the nation at a Downing Street press conference this evening Mr Hancock explained that the Indian variant is now responsible for up to three quarters of coronavirus cases in the UK.
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Dr Jenny Harries, Chief Executive, UK Health Security Agency said as cases of the Indian variant rise in some areas, people should continue to be cautious and follow the guidance.
She added: “We now know that getting both vaccine doses gives a high degree of protection against this variant and we urge everyone to have the vaccine when the NHS invites you.
“Please follow the public health advice and make sure that you remain careful, work from home if you can, meet people outside where possible and remember “hands, face, space, fresh air” at all times.
“This is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from this variant.”