The weekly coronavirus update released by Public Health England (PHE) has shown that cases of the Delta (VOC-21APR-02) variant in the UK have risen by 5,472 since last week to 12,431.
Although there is some regional variation, PHE officials now believe that Delta has overtaken Alpha (VOC-20DEC-01 or Kent) as the dominant SARS-CoV-2 variant in the UK.
PHE noted that early evidence suggested there may be an increased risk of hospitalisation for Delta compared to Alpha, although it stated that more data was needed to confirm that finding. This week, 278 people with the Delta variant attended A&E, resulting in 94 people being admitted to hospital overnight. Last week, 201 people attended A&E, with 43 admissions. The majority of these had not been vaccinated.
The most affected areas remain Bolton, where cases have risen by 795 to 2149, and Blackburn with Darwen which has seen 368 new cases, bringing it to 724 in total. There are encouraging signs that the transmission rate in Bolton has begun to fall and that the actions taken by residents and local authority teams have been successful in reducing spread.
Schools and other settings
PHE has also published a breakdown of outbreaks and clusters of variants in schools and other settings.
Outbreaks and clusters in primary and secondary schools are at low levels but we have seen a slight increase over recent weeks, in line with higher levels of the Delta variant circulating in the community.
The latest PHE data suggest that there have been 97 confirmed COVID-19 outbreaks in primary and secondary schools that have had at least one variant case linked to them over the most recent 4-week period. This represents around 1 in 250 schools.
PHE’s health protection teams continue to work with local authorities and schools to carry out surveillance of COVID-19 cases in schools to understand and reduce transmission in these settings.
Dr Jenny Harries, Chief Executive, UK Health Security Agency, said: “With this variant now dominant across the UK, it remains vital that we all continue to exercise as much caution as possible. The way to tackle variants is to tackle the transmission of COVID-19 as a whole. Work from home where you can, and practice ‘hands, face, space, fresh air’ at all times.
“If you are eligible and have not already done so, please come forward to be vaccinated and make sure you get your second jab. It will save lives.”