South-west London boroughs detect new ‘Indian’ variant cases

Concerns over the spread of a new and highly transmissible strain of the Covid-19 virus first detected in India are being furthered with cases detected in a number of south west London boroughs.

Data released by Public Health England (PHE) recently showed numerous likely cases of the so-called Indian variant that is officially called VOC-21APR-02 or B.1.617.2 in several parts of south west London.

The data was compiled by sampling positive cases of Covid-19 confirmed between May 2-May 8 in local authorities across the country.

It screened positive Covid cases for something called the ‘S’ gene that previous analysis has found to be present in 93 per cent of 400 previously confirmed national cases of the B.1.617.2 Indian variant but not in other variants like the ‘Kent’ variant.

The ‘S’-gene was detected in various positive Covid-19 cases from south west London, suggesting the presence of the B.1.617.2 that some experts already believe will become the dominant strain of the virus in the UK in the coming days.

In Wandsworth, nine Covid-19 cases were screened, with four reporting presence of the ‘S’-gene.

That equated to 44.4 per cent of the total, and the figures were lower than in other south London boroughs such as Croydon, which reported 10 cases out of 13 containing the ‘S’ gene, equivalent to 76.9 per cent of the total.

Read more: Croydon reports most cases of Indian variant in south London

Nevertheless the presence of the highly transmissible B.1.617.2 strain furthered fears that it will likely spread rapidly in the areas it is detected.

Elsewhere in south-west London, Merton reported three of five positive cases containing the S-gene (60 per cent of the total).

Two cases of the four surveyed in Lambeth (50 per cent) detected the S-gene, while in Southwark the figures were one instance in three cases (33.3 per cent).

Both Richmond and Reigate and Banstead recorded one case each containing the S-gene of the two screened in those boroughs (50 per cent) during the time period.

Both Sutton and Kingston recorded zero cases where the S-gene was detected between May 2-8.

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