Delta strain now accounts for more than half of all covid cases in the North East, says health chief
The fast-spreading variant of concern now accounts for 56% of infections in the region, Newcastle public health director Eugene Milne confirmed.
Public Health England (PHE) announced on Thursday that the variant first identified in India had become the dominant form of coronavirus in the UK, overtaking the Alpha or Kent strain.
But while it now represents the majority of cases in the North East infection rates have not yet escalated here in the way they have in hotspots like Bolton and Blackburn – despite the variant’s greater infectivity.
According to latest PHE data, there were 149 confirmed or probable cases of the Delta variant in the North East as of May 31.
While that is 68 more than in the previous week, it remains far lower than the 4,273 identified in the North West.
Prof Milne told a health scrutiny committee in Newcastle: “What we have not seen is an escalation in cases as a consequence of that [the Delta variant becoming dominant].
“More generally what we are seeing with the Delta variant is rapid spread within households.
“As long as we continue to try and contain spread beyond that, we are not seeing a particular rise in the population at the moment.”
Surge testing and vaccination services have been running in North Tyneside over the last couple of weeks due to an outbreak of the Delta strain.