Delta variant cases soar to 42,000 – stoking fears of June 21 delay

AT LEAST 42,000 cases in the UK have been caused by the Delta variant first seen in India, new data shows.

It means infections have risen by 41.6 per cent since Public Health England's (PHE) last update a week ago.

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The worrying data comes as the Government weighs up whether to lift all Covid restrictions on June 21 or to delay it by up to a month.

Dr Jenny Harries, Chief Executive of the UK Health Security Agency, said: "With numbers of Delta variant cases on the rise across the country, vaccination is our best defence.

"If you are eligible, we urge you to come forward and be vaccinated. Remember that two doses provide significantly more protection than a single dose.

"However, while vaccination reduces the risk of severe disease, it does not eliminate it.

"With data showing that Delta is significantly more transmissible than Alpha, it is just as important as ever to follow public health advice, which has not changed.

"Get vaccinated, work from home where you can and remember “hands, face, space, fresh air” at all times. These measures work, and they save lives."

It comes after it was revealed last night Delta now accounts for 91 per cent of new cases in the UK,based on an assessment seen by Matt Hancock.

The strain has shown to be around 60 per cent more transmissible than the Alpha (Kent) strain.

And it looks like the doubling time for cases is less than a week, which is as bad as just before Christmas, according to one leading expert.

The Prime Minister this week gave his biggest hint yet that the June 21 date could be delayed.

A senior Government official yesterday told the Financial Times that fears about the new variant meant a “mix-and-match approach is probably on the cards".

And a Cabinet minister told the paper officials are “trying to find a solution that pleases the PM’s instincts” to reopen the country.

One study which tracks the outbreak has also said Covid cases have doubled in one week, with an estimated 12,000 people reporting Covid symptoms each day compared to 5,700 the week before.

In terms of prevalence, on average one in 543 people in the UK currently has symptomatic COVID, according to data from the Zoe Covid Symptom Study app.

But cases are clearly rising in the young and unvaccinated, experts say.

Meanwhile, the Government data shows reported another 7,393 cases yesterday. There has been a rise of 40 per cent in the number of cases since last week when 5,274 cases were recorded.

However, the number of deaths remains low at seven.

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