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Indian variant 'becoming most dominant' form of Covid in Hampshire

THE Indian variant of coronavirus is “becoming the most dominant” in Hampshire with Covid cases expected to rise, it has been revealed.

Residents have been urged to get vaccinated as health bosses said the vaccine remains “the best protection we have” against the virus, writes Maria Zaccaro of the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

It comes as it has been confirmed that the variant first identified in India, now known as Delta, is becoming the most dominant in Hampshire.

81.5% of Forest residents aged over 18 have had their first jab
81.5% of Forest residents aged over 18 have had their first jab

Meanwhile data will continued to be monitored in Southampton where the variant first detected in Kent is still the most prevalent.

According to city bosses, 17 cases of the Delta variant have been identified in Southampton but the data for the rest of Hampshire have not been confirmed.

Dr Simon Bryant, the director of public health at Hampshire County Council, said not all Covid cases across the county are genome sequenced and it would not be “accurate” to give an exact figure.

However, talking about the Delta variant he added: “It’s becoming the most dominant variant. The key thing is the messages are the same around how we prevent the spread of Covid. We expect to see cases rise partly because this variant spreads fast but also because we are in a different place in terms of how society is opening up.”

When asked whether that would lead to further restrictions or a lockdown he said: “We have got more people vaccinated and because of that we are in a much better position.”

He urged residents to get tested regularly, get vaccinated and follow the guidelines.

Dr Bryant added: “The vaccination programme has been very effective because we have had a very good uptake locally which has meant that whilst we are seeing a smaller rise in infections, we are not seeing the same in hospitalisations. As we open up we are likely to see more cases spreading but if that is not really impacting hospitalisation and people are not getting that sick that makes it easier for society to open up. We still need to be cautious. We are learning to live with this virus.”

Today Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the Delta variant now comprises 91% of new cases in the UK.

Health bosses in Southampton said they will continue to work with the government to consider whether other measures such as surge testing are likely to be needed.

Dr Debbie Chase, the director of public health in the city, said the vaccine is “the best protection” we have against Covid.

She added: “It’s really important that we all continue to follow the guidance, try and limit some of the risk in things we do such as meeting friends outdoors rather than indoors, and most importantly please do accept the offer of a Covid-19 vaccination when invited. I want to reassure our residents that the measures they have used to prevent the spread of infection throughout the pandemic will continue to work with the Delta variant – hands, face, space and fresh air and now regularly undertaking symptom free testing.”

In the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) update, it was revealed for the sixth week running there had been no coronavirus deaths reported in the New Forest.

The death toll so far in the Forest this year is 173 and in the BCP conurbation is 623.

The provisional figures from the ONS related to Covid-19 mentioned on the death certificate up to 28th May but registered up to 5th June.

Previously reported numbers can change after being updated by the ONS.

Separate government statistics on Tuesday showed a rise from seven to 13 new weekly Covid cases in the Forest – an infection rate of 7.2 per 100,000 people.

On the vaccination front, 81.5% of Forest residents aged over 18 have had their first jab (125,459) and 65.3% their second (100,513).

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