Almost 3,000 cases of the coronavirus variant first detected in India have been reported in Britain, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said.
In a statement on Wednesday at the House of Commons, the lower house of Parliament, Hancock said 2,967 cases of the variant have now been recorded, 28 per cent up from more than 2,300 on Monday, reports Xinhua news agency.
Surge testing and vaccinations will be deployed in the affected areas including Bedford, Burnley, Hounslow, Kirklees, Leicester and North Tyneside, according to the Health Secretary.
The Scottish government is also taking similar steps in Glasgow and Moray, he added.
“What this means in practice is we are putting in place more testing and more testing sites. We are making more vaccinations available to everyone who is eligible.”
The spread of the Indian variant has raised concerns that England’s final step of the roadmap out of Covid-19 restrictions scheduled for June 21 might be delayed.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson told lawmakers earlier Wednesday that there is “increasing confidence” that the current vaccines will be effective against all variants of the virus, including the Indian strain.
From Monday, pubs, bars and restaurants in England were permitted to open indoors, while indoor entertainment resumed, including cinemas, museums and children’s play areas.
Millions in England were allowed to meet outdoors in groups of up to 30 people, and meet indoors in groups of up to six or as two households.
Meanwhile, all remaining accommodation including hotels, hostels and B&Bs can reopen from May 24.
People were also allowed to travel abroad to a number of green-list countries without having to quarantine upon return as the ban on foreign travel has also been lifted.
The UK has so far reported 4,468,355 Covid-19 cases and 127,956 deaths.