There have been 14,385 cases of the new strain but No10 says reports the strand is 10% more infectious are “speculative”
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The new ‘Delta Plus’ Covid strain is being kept under “close watch”, Downing Street has said amid fears it it more transmissible.
Government data shows there have been 14,385 cases of the new strain so far and it now makes up 8% of sequenced cases in the country.
It comes as Downing Street warned of a “challenging” winter, after the UK reported 49,156 new cases on Monday – the highest reported since 17 July and a 16% rise in new cases over the past week.
Asked if the Cabinet discussed the new Delta AY4.2, or ‘Delta Plus’ strand, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “No. As you know it’s something we’re keeping a very close eye on because of the strength of our genomic capability we are able to keep a very close watch on any variants that are emerging.
“There’s no evidence to suggest this variant, which I think is the AY4.2 you are referring to, is more easily spread. There’s no evidence for that but as you would expect we’re monitoring it closely and won’t hesitate to take action if necessary.”
The spokesman said reports that it was 10% more infectious were “speculative”, adding: “There’s no evidence provided to us that we have seen that suggests it is more easily spread.”
Nearly 90 per cent of all local areas across the UK have seen a rise in Covid cases, worrying data released on Monday showed.
It revealed that of the 377 UK local areas just 13% had seen a drop compared to the previous week.
The data reveals that across the UK out of all 377 local areas, 327 (87%) saw a week-on-week rise in rates and 50 (13%) saw a fall.
Nationally there were 49,156 new cases recorded on Monday.
Meanwhile, Sajid Javid has announced that the national booking services will be open to teenagers during half term next week as the rollout in schools stalls.
He told the Commons: “To make the most of half term next week, we will now be opening up the national booking service to all 12 to 15 year olds to have their Covid vaccinations in existing vaccination centres, which will offer families more flexibility.”