22 cases of Indian Covid variant identified in Suffolk

Seven new rapid coronavirus testing centres are opening in Suffolk within the next week.

More cases of the Indian Covid variant have been found in Suffolk - Credit: PA

The number of cases of the Indian variant of Covid in Suffolk has risen to 22, the county council has confirmed.

Fourteen of the cases have been identified in mid Suffolk, where a programme of PCR testing of residents in Needham Market is ongoing after three cases were previously found.

Of the remaining eight cases in the county, two are in Ipswich and five are in west Suffolk.

The location of one case remains under investigation, but it is understood that it may have been designated as a Suffolk case in error.

Targeted testing of close contacts is also being undertaken to identify any potential further cases.

Two mobile testing units were set up in Needham Market last weekend after three cases of the variant - formally known as the B.1.617.2 strain - were identified in the town.

One of the units has now been relocated, while the other is set to remain in the Mid Suffolk District Council car park in High Street until Saturday.

Appointments to get tested do not have to be pre-booked and more than 2,000 people have been tested so far.

The number of people who have tested positive has not been revealed by the county council.

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According to government data up to May 17, the Covid infection rate for the Needham Market South and Great Blakenham neighbourhood was 174.4 cases per 100,000 people.

It had been previously confirmed by the county council that cases of the Indian variant in Suffolk had been traced back to Bolton in Greater Manchester.

Stuart Keeble, Suffolk's director of public health, said enhanced contact tracing was undertaken routinely with all known cases with a variant of concern to understand the source of any infection.

Stuart Keeble, director of public health for Suffolk Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

Stuart Keeble, Suffolk's director of public health - Credit: Suffolk County Council

He said: "We should neither be surprised or unduly alarmed at the increase in figures.

"This is being seen at a national level and this variant is likely to become increasingly common as we move forward.

"It must be remembered that while the variant potentially spreads more quickly, and somewhat reduces the impact of the first dose, recent data shows vaccines are still highly effective at protecting against severe disease following a second dose."