Home Kent News Exact number of Indian COVID variant cases in every part of Kent

Exact number of Indian COVID variant cases in every part of Kent

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Original article from Kent Live

New data from Public Health England reveals the number of suspected Indian variant coronavirus cases in each part of Kent.

Up to nine cases were detected in Canterbury in the space of a week, the highest amount for a single area in the whole of the South East region.

Elsewhere in Kent, four cases were detected in Dartford, two in Ashford, two in Tunbridge Wells and one each in Sevenoaks, Maidstone and Folkestone & Hythe.

The numbers come from Public Health England data showing where variants of concerns are believed to be most prevalent.

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To track it most quickly, they have been looking for positive samples containing something known as the S gene.

It's a gene which is not present in the dominant Kent variant, but is detected in several of the new variants including those from India.

Out of 397 specimens with the S gene found in May so far, some 93 per cent were determined to be the feared new Indian variant known as B1.617.2.

Therefore scientists believe that by tracking the S gene, they can track the spread of the Indian variant slightly more quickly, without having to wait for full genomic sequencing.

And the S-gene data reveals there were 20 such cases detected in Kent in the last recorded week, between May 2 and May 8.

None were detected in Dover, Gravesham, Medway, Swale, Thanet or Tonbridge & Malling.

But the nine detected in Canterbury alone put it 32nd in England out of 317 local authority areas and the highest of all in the South East.

The highest in the country were Bolton (350) and Blackburn (110).

Canterbury, where the highest number of suspected Indian COVID cases have been found

Another concerning data trend for Canterbury was that the nine cases were detected from only 10 samples sequenced, a positivity rate of 90 per cent.

That was one of the highest in the country – slightly higher even than Bolton (86.6 per cent) and Blackburn (85.9 per cent) – suggesting that, like those places, the Indian variant may already be the dominant strain.

Of course for that be ascertained, further testing is required.

Scientists believe the Indian variant is more transmissible, and cases of it nearly tripled to 1,313 in the past week in England.

But yesterday (May 16) Health Secretary Matt Hancock said early lab data showed vaccines remained effective.

He said the majority of those in hospital in Bolton – a hotspot for the Indian variant – were unvaccinated.

More than 20 million people in the UK have now had two doses of a coronavirus vaccine, according to the latest government figures.

Original Article