Covid-19: More Indian variant cases found in NI

By Marie-Louise Connolly
BBC News NI Health Correspondent

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There has been an increase in the number of cases of the Indian variant of coronavirus in Northern Ireland.

BBC News NI understands there are now at least 12 cases of the variant.

It is unclear whether the additional cases are linked and the Public Health Agency would not confirm where they were found or how many were linked to travel.

While there has been a small increase in the overall number of positive Covid-19 cases in NI, it is understood health officials at this stage are not overly concerned.

The main worry would be if there was community transmission or that the current cases could not be linked to each other.

It is understood that work is still ongoing to understand the extent of transmission and if the cases have been contained.

With restrictions lifting and an increase in people mixing, it is understood that authorities are expecting the epidemic to grow a little bit more quickly than previously.

However, as hospital numbers remain low, it appears at this stage that the vaccine continues to offer protection.

Elsewhere in the UK, the number of cases of the Indian variant is rising at worrying rates including in Bolton, which now has 150 cases/100k which is more than double compared to seven days ago.

Those cases are mainly among the under-25 age group.

The Kent strain of the virus B1.1.7 remains the dominant strain in Northern Ireland as it is elsewhere in the UK.

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