No Indian variant cases recorded in Portsmouth yet - but Covid cases rise

THE ‘SIGNIFICANTLY’ more transmissible Indian variant of coronavirus has not yet been recorded in Portsmouth - but daily Covid cases in the city have increased rapidly.

Tuesday, 18th May 2021, 12:31 pm

Public health boss for the city, Helen Atkinson, confirmed no local cases of the Indian variant have been identified, however, warned people to ‘remain cautious.’

According to the latest government data, 17 new cases of coronavirus were recorded in the city on May 17, bringing the total number of cases since the start of the pandemic to 14,372.

This was a large increase compared to May 16 when there were five new cases and May 14 when there were four.

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The Guildhall Test Centre in Portsmouth, opened on Monday, February 22, and is a rapid test centre for asymptomatic critical workers. Picture: Sarah Standing (220221-3405)

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However, Ms Atkinson said the seven-day rate - currently at 11.6 new cases per 100,000 of the population - was a more accurate representation of infection, as daily case numbers 'fluctuate.’

She said: ‘No local cases of the variant of concern B.1.617.2 (commonly known as the Indian variant) have been identified. There is emerging national evidence that the new variant is significantly more transmissible than earlier variants.

‘I would encourage everyone to take up their vaccination when invited as this provides protection against transmission as well as protection against infection and severe illness if you catch the virus.

Helen Atkinson, director of public health at Portsmouth City Council

‘Over 107,000 residents are now vaccinated in the city.’

But several areas in Hampshire have recorded cases of the Indian variant including Winchester, the New Forest and Southampton where one case was recorded in each place over a two-week period (April 25 to May 8).

On the Isle of Wight one case was recorded in that time.

It comes as lockdown restrictions were eased yesterday (May 17) with cafes, pubs and restaurants opening inside to customers. Cinemas and other indoor venues also opened.

Ms Atkinson added: ‘At the moment infections in the city are low, however, I urge Portsmouth residents to remain cautious - washing hands regularly, wearing face coverings, keeping a social distance and opening the window if they have visitors to their homes, but meeting outdoors if possible.

‘Also taking up the habit of twice-weekly testing when you don’t have symptoms will help track the virus and ensure anyone with coronavirus but not showing symptoms can isolate to reduce the spread.

‘Testing is free to everyone at our Somers Town test site, and there are many local collection points for home test kits, which can be found online.’

Across England the Indian variant was recorded in 127 local authority areas in the week ending May 8 - up from 71 places the week before.

Worst hit was Bolton in Lancashire where cases had more than doubled compared with the week ending 1 May, with 289 identified in one week.

The number of new cases also increased by 74 per cent in Sefton in Merseyside (99 cases), 67 per cent in Blackburn with Darwen (110), and by 39 per cent in Bedford (69).

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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