The number of cases of the Delta variant of covid first detected in India has increased by 240 per cent in the UK in the last week.
Public Health England today said the number of cases had risen from 12,431 to 42,323 in the latest seven-day period, an increase of 29,892 cases.
This could put further pressure on the Government to delay the final easing of lockdown on June 21 – though the majority of cases appeared to be in unvaccinated people.
Nick Thomas-Symonds, Labour’s shadow Home Secretary, said: “These figures are terrible. The pace at which cases of the Delta variant continue to rise is deeply worrying and is putting the lifting of restrictions at risk.
“The blame for this lies with the Prime Minister and his reckless refusal to act on Labour’s repeated warnings to secure our borders against Covid and its variants.”
The Delta variant has caused 42 deaths – 23 in unvaccinated people, seven in people who have had one dose and 12 in people who have had two doses, though many of the latter group are believed to have had underlying health conditions.
However the mortality rate is only currently 0.1 per cent – well below the Kent variant – and only about 2.5 per cent of people with the variant need to go to A&E.
Part of the increase in case numbers is because faster “genotype” testing is being used, which delivers results within 48 hours rather than about a week for genome sequencing.
The latest figures, which cover the period to Wednesday, come after a 79 per cent increase in the detection of the variant in the previous week.
PHE’s weekly variants report said the Delta variant now accounts for 90 per cent of all UK cases of covid. The variant continues to spread at a “significantly higher rate” than the Alpha or Kent variant previously dominant in the UK.