New COVID-19 Strain Detected in UK as Delta Variant Accounts for One in Ten New Cases
COVID-19 death rates in the UK have approached triple figures this week, peaking at 96 on Monday — the day England moved to the fourth stage of lifting lockdown restrictions. But that is just a tenth of the mortality rate seen when infection rates were last this high at the New Year.
A new COVID-19 strain first identified in Colombia has been detected in the UK — while the Delta variant has reached a prevalence of almost 11 per cent of new cases.
Public Health England (PHE) confirmed the B.1.621 variant had been sequenced in 16 cases — with those who have come into contact with the infected individuals followed up for testing.
So far 325 cases of the new variant have been identified in Colombia since it was first discovered in January, with 264 in the US and 196 in Spain.
Officials stressed that there was no evidence Colombian variant was more deadly than other strains or was resistant to the vaccines currently in use.
PHE also revealed there had been 33,716 identified cases of the Delta variant, first found in India and considered more infectious than others in the UK, in the last week.
That figure is almost 11 per cent of the latest seven-day running total on the agency's coronavirus pandemic web page.
22 July, 19:11 GMT
COVID-19 death rates in the UK have approached triple figures this week, peaking at 96 on Monday — the day England moved to the fourth stage of lifting lockdown restrictions.
That is roughly a tenth of the mortality rate seen when infection rates were last this high at the New Year — backing the government's assertion that its vaccination programme had "broken the link" between infections and deaths. But officials continued to recommend caution.
“As we emerge from restrictions and vaccine coverage continues to rise, it is important to remember that while the protection provided by vaccination is excellent, it is not total," UK Health Security Agency chief executive Dr Jenny Harries said.
"Remember that meeting outside is safer than inside, get two doses of the vaccine as soon as you can, isolate if you are told to by NHS Test & Trace and if you show symptoms stay home and get a PCR test," she added.
The total death toll in the UK since the first case was identified in January 2020 topped 129,000 on Thursday.