Cases of the Delta variant have tripled, rising to 42,323 in England, new data has revealed.
Weekly data published by Public Health England (PHE) found the variant, which first originated in India, now accounts for 90% of UK cases.
Last week there were 12,431 recorded cases, however this has risen by 29,892 in a week to 42,323.
PHE said it is using new genotype testing data which are thought to be “extremely accurate” in indicating a positive variant result, allowing for earlier detection of trends and improved public health response.
Most recently, the tests allowed for the early identification of rising cases in areas including Greater Manchester and Lancashire, triggering action to control the variant in these areas.
What do we know about the variant?
The Delta variant is associated with roughly 60% increased risk of household transmission compared to the Alpha variant, according to PHE data.
Growth rates for Delta cases are high across the regions, but PHE said it is “encouraging” to see that the increase is not yet accompanied by a similarly large increase in hospitalisations.
The variant appears to cause different coronavirus symptoms to those we’re used to, according to the lead researcher behind the Zoe Covid Symptom Study.
Professor Tim Spector, an expert in genetic epidemiology from King’s College London (KCL), said the variant “is more like a bad cold”.
The number one symptom now is headache, followed by sore throat, runny nose and fever – “all those are not the old classic symptoms,” said Prof Spector.
”[Symptom] number five is cough, it’s rarer, and we don’t even see loss of smell coming into the top 10 anymore. This variant seems to be working slightly differently.”
Where is the variant now?
Last week we published a list of places in England with 100+ cases of the Delta variant.
Here are the areas with 500 or more cases as of this week, according to Public Health England’s breakdown of local authorities:
London - 6,131 cases
Bolton - 3,896 cases
Blackburn with Darwen - 1,924 cases
Manchester - 1,580 cases
Birmingham - 1,076 cases
Bedford - 896 cases
Wigan - 813 cases
Salford - 776 cases
Kirklees - 657 cases
Leicester - 647 cases
Stockport - 642 cases
Leeds - 640 cases
Bury - 562 cases
Bradford - 524 cases
Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, urged people to get vaccinated. “Remember that two doses provide significantly more protection than a single dose,” she said.
“However, while vaccination reduces the risk of severe disease, it does not eliminate it. With data showing that Delta is significantly more transmissible than Alpha, it is just as important as ever to follow public health advice, which has not changed.
“Get vaccinated, work from home where you can and remember ‘hands, face, space, fresh air’ at all times. These measures work, and they save lives.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.