Around 50 Per Cent Of Confirmed Coronavirus Infections in Leicestershire Are 'Mutant Strain' Says Public Health Chief

By Graham Hill

5th Jan 2021 | Local News

Around half the Covid-19 infections currently being confirmed in Leicestershire every day are the more infectious mutant strain of the virus, according to the county's top public health boss.

Mike Sandys, Leicestershire's director of public health, said today (Tuesday) that the new strain has already moved into the Midlands from the south east of the country and is likely to be behind the recent spike in cases confirmed each day.

He said: "The new variant that has fuelled transmission in London and the South East is with us, I've heard Public Health England talk about up to half of all the new cases in the East Midlands now being the new variant.

"You look at the high increase in Harborough and come to the conclusion that Harborough is closer to London and the South East than any other part of Leicestershire."

Cases in the Harborough district have increased by 40 per cent in the last seven days. Blaby, which is also in the south of the county has also seen a big increase with 37 per cent more cases in the past week.

The latest seven-day infection rate in Harborough is 404 cases per 100,000 and in Blaby it is 349.7 cases per 100,000.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson last night put England into a third national lockdown, something Mr Sandys says has come as a relief.

He added: "There's a bit of me that is really grateful that the national lockdown has come in, because our figures have been going up, particularly in certain areas, and I've got a feeling it was going to be a one way street from here on in.

"Hopefully, the national lockdown will save us from the worst of what's befallen the rest of the country."

Talking about the new strain, he said: "It started in London and the South East but it isn't just a London thing.

"We can see that the rates are rising everywhere, and more so in areas of Leicestershire that are closer to London.

"Hopefully, the new measures and the new national lockdown rather than the tier system, will mean that the stay home message slows the spread in the same way we saw in March, April and May time."

But he warned that rates and cases are likely to continue rising in the shorter term and the new lockdown will take some time to kick in and reflect in the infection data.

"By the time we get to next week we are likely to see the cases still going up, because of Christmas backlash, because of the new strain, and because of the Christmas shopping and retail.

"But, the national lockdown should see cases and rates drop as it takes effect."


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