Public health director ‘really worried’ about Indian Covid variant in Bedford
Bedford’s director of public health said she was “really worried” about the local increase in Covid-19 cases linked to the Indian variant.
Vicky Head said cases in the borough had risen from “three or four” a day to up to 10 times that figure over the past month.
Bedford has the second highest rate of coronavirus in England, with 214 new cases recorded in the seven days to May 13.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast on Tuesday, Ms Head said there had been 80 confirmed cases of the Indian variant recorded in Bedford.
She said: “What we do know is what we are seeing locally which is a really massive increase in cases.
“About three or four weeks ago we had three or four cases a day.
“We are now up to 10 times higher.”
She added: “What we think now is that almost all of our cases are likely to be the India variant.”
Ms Head said a ‘surge’ of Covid-19 testing was planned for parts of the borough to identify those who have the virus but are not showing symptoms, and to ensure that they self-isolate.
When asked if she was concerned about the spread of the variant, Ms Head said, “I’m really worried about this.
“Everyone needs to understand how transmissible this variant is.”
Bedford’s Covid-19 rate fell from 61.2 cases in the week through May 6 to 123.5 per 100,000 people in the seven days leading up to May 13.
Only behind Bolton in Greater Manchester, which continues to have the highest rate in England, with 811 new cases recorded in the seven days to May 13.
The figures were calculated by the PA news agency based on data from Public Health England released on May 17 on the government’s coronavirus dashboard.
Ms Head said: “This is one of the most striking things about the variant is how transmissible it is.
“If someone goes to school and tests positive, then we see their whole family test positive.”
Ms Head said she remained ‘confident’ in the vaccination program as most of the new cases in Bedford were in people under the age of 40.
She added: “We have seen a slight increase in the number of our inpatients in the hospital, but nothing that gives me the impression that we are not seeing an effective vaccine.”