Additional testing with genomic sequencing is being delivered in the CT1 and CT2 postcodes in Canterbury and the ME14 postcode in Maidstone, both Kent while it is also being deployed in targeted areas in Bradford, West Yorkshire.
Everyone who lives or works in these areas is strongly encouraged to take a test, including children aged 12 and over in Canterbury and Maidstone and those aged 11 and over in Bradford.
All those with confirmed cases of the Indian variant, also known as the Delta variant, have been instructed to self-isolate and their contacts have been identified.
Dr Mike Tildesley, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-M) Government advisory panel, said the scrapping of all restrictions on June 21 could be in jeopardy if ministers become “concerned” about rising hospital admissions and deaths as a result of the Indian variant.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s PM programme, the University of Warwick academic said: “We do need probably a little bit more time to fully establish how we think the virus is growing, but certainly the number of cases are growing, I think that is very clear.
“And of course that does raise certain concerns regarding what might happen in the coming weeks, particularly if we are looking forward to further relaxation measures in a couple of weeks’ time.”