Original article from Kent Live
Government data shows a new and potentially more deadly strain of coronavirus is spreading in Kent faster than anywhere else.
A new variant known as B1525 and believed to have originated in Nigeria was detected in our area for the first time several weeks ago.
Public Health England has found it has killed 3.6 per cent of people infected with it in this country so far.
That compares to 2.3 per cent killed by the now dominant new strain widely known as the Kent variant, which itself is thought to be more deadly than the original strain.
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The Nigerian strain also carries the feared mutation known as E484K, thought to help it evade antibodies and potentially making vaccines less effective.
The 388 cases recorded are enough to make it the third most numerous variant in the UK, behind only the dominant Kent strain and the South African strain (737 cases).
New modelling from Public Health England also suggests it is spreading fastest in Kent.
Out of 65 new cases recorded between April 1 and April 22, almost a third (19) came from people living in the South East region.
And in its latest technical briefing on variants, Public Health England produced a map showing geographical spread of B1525 "excluding cases that have travelled" – in other words places where community transmission is taking place.
The darkest shades of red on the map show in Kent, indicating greater spread.
The darkest shades of all are in the east of the county.
Public Health England has confirmed to KentLive it is continuing to investigate "clusters of linked cases".
But PHE seemed to rule out door-to-door surge testing previously used in Maidstone when the South African strain was found.
That's apparently because it was designated as a 'Variant of Concern', while the Nigerian one is currently only a Variant Under investigation.
Dr Susan Hopkins, its COVID-19 strategic response director, said: “We are continuing to investigate clusters of linked cases across England.
"PHE health protection teams are implementing tailored public health actions to detect cases of the variant and mitigate the impact in local communities.
"Enhanced contact tracing and testing is the most effective way of limiting spread.
“This precautionary approach ensures that our public health response remains agile and targeted.
She added: "There is currently no evidence that the variant causes more severe disease or renders the vaccines currently deployed any less effective but more work is underway to understand that better.
"It is more important than ever that people come forward for PCR testing when they have symptoms, no matter how mild in order to find cases and break chains of transmission and also have asymptomatic testing when requested by their local health protection and public health teams.
“Everyone can play their part by continuing to follow the health advice in your area, including only socialising outdoors, taking a test when requested or with mild symptoms and remember hands, face, space and fresh air.”