New ‘Delta plus’ Covid variant that’s ‘more transmissible’ detected in UK
A NEW "Delta Plus" Covid variant "more transmissible" than the original has been detected in the UK.
Around 41 cases of the mutated variant have been found in the country, after first being reported in India.
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Delta Plus has been found in nine other countries – USA, UK, Portugal, Switzerland, Japan, Poland, Nepal, Russia and China.
PHE is not calling it "Delta Plus", and said the World Health Organisation is considering it simply part of Delta, but is monitoring the cases.
Dr Andrew Lee, Covid Incident Director at Public Health England, said: “PHE has put in place additional control measures where cases of Delta variant with K417N (AY.1) are detected including enhanced contact tracing, rapid testing and isolation.
"41 cases in total have been identified in England. Active investigation of cases and clusters will ensure our public health response remains fast and proportionate.
"We are continuing investigations to better understand the significance of K417N in addition to Delta.
"PHE will continue to closely monitor and assess all changes in the virus as they naturally emerge, given the overall large number of COVID cases globally.”
The Union Health Ministry on Tuesday described the new variant as "currently a variant of concern," in a statement.
Around 40 samples of AY.1 have been found in three states – 16 were recorded in the state of Maharashtra, health officials said.
The mutation was detected earlier this month but wasn't thought to be concerning, reports India Today.
But now it is believed to spread more easily, bind more easily to lung cells and is more resistance to antibody therapy.
K417N is a spike mutation seen in the Beta (first detected in South Africa) variant and is now seen in a small number of Delta variant genomes in the UK.
The Indian government confirmed yesterday the new variant is "more transmissible" than the original, and has urged the affected areas to take up immediate containment measures, enhance testing, tracking and vaccination.
India's second wave of Covid-19 in April, had been described as the "world's worst outbreak", with people dying on the streets due to a collapsed health system and a lack of oxygen supplies.
On April 26, the country reported 350,000 new cases and over 2,800 deaths in one day.
Experts have warned India's death toll could hit one million by July, in an "inevitable" third wave of Covid.
The Delta variant that spread across England and delayed the country's Freedom Day was first found in India in December 2020, before Public Health England detected it in the UK in early May.
The strain is up to 80 percent more contagious than the Alpha (Kent) variant.
The North West remains the biggest hotspot for the virus with the 16 most infected areas of the country being focused in the region.
Blackburn with Darwen in Lancashire continues to have the highest rate, with 796 new cases in the seven days to June 17 – the equivalent of 531.7 cases per 100,000 people.
Public Health England reported a total of 806 people to be hospitalised with the Delta variant, as of June 14, an increase of 423 since last week.
Of these, 527 were unvaccinated, and only 84 of the 806 had received both doses.
Dr Jenny Harries, Chief Executive of the UK Health Security Agency, said: “Cases are rising rapidly across the country and the Delta variant is now dominant.
“The increase is primarily in younger age groups, a large proportion of which were unvaccinated but are now being invited to receive the vaccine."
On Tuesday, deaths in the UKjumped to their highest figure in six weeks and cases surged to 11,625 in the biggest jump since February.
Daily deaths rose by 27 – bringing the total number of Covid victims to 128,008.
Last week, there were ten deaths and 7,673 cases recorded by the government.
It comes as the rise in Covid-19 cases has forced Boris Johnson to delay the final stage of his lockdown roadmap by four weeks.
The PM is set to announce on Monday if the restrictions can be lifted early on June 5.
He is expected however to stick with his "terminus date" of July 19.
The PM's spokesperson said: "Monday will be the day when we were deciding on the decision on that and we are closely monitoring the data, ahead of providing a full update.
"We will set out very clearly to the public, the rationale for the decision we've made."
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