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Indian Covid variant cases soar 150% in a week with 48 clusters found across UK

The number of cases of one of the Indian Covid-19 variants has soared by 150% in just a week as 48 clusters have been detected in England.

Health experts in England warned that the strain should be made a "variant of concern" as leaked emails show the risk from it is "high".

It is thought that around 500 cases of the B.1.617.2 variant have been detected across England with the highest levels in London and the North West.

The rapid increase in detection means that surge testing could be rolled out but the Department of Health has not yet announced any plans.

Surge testing means when testing is increased and contact tracing is enhanced in specific locations in England.

At present all three of the Indian variants in the UK (B.1.617.1, B.1.617.2 and B.1.617.3) have been dubbed as "under investigation".

Last week data from Public Health England (PHE) showed there were 202 officially recorded cases and experts fear that the strain B.1.617.2 could spread faster than the two other sub types of Indian variant also identified in the UK.

Data seen by the BBC states that scientists believe it is as transmissible as the variant detected in Kent last year which caused England to be plunged into a third Covid-19 lockdown.

But sources believe there is no reason to suggest the variant is resistant to any of the vaccines currently being rolled out.

It is not yet known how many cases can be linked back to international travel.

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The Indian variants have a number of mutations that make them different to the original coronavirus strain.

Emails seen by the Guardian shows that clusters of B.1.617.2 have been found and that the risk has been deemed as "high".

Experts however delayed releasing the information due to the local elections.

PHE said the delay had been a processing issue and the variant could be upgraded to "variant of concern" at some point on Friday.

The documents state that there are 48 clusters that have been linked to secondary schools and religious gatherings.

In London, it revealed that some had been identified in care homes.

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