Delta variant infections in the UK have jumped by 78 per cent in just one week, the latest Public Health England (PHE) data reveals.
The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases involving this more transmissible variant rose by 33,630 to 75,953 over seven days, with general coronavirus infections now at their highest levels in the UK since mid-February.
This comes after PHE data indicated that those who contract the Delta variant are at increased risk of hospitalisation. So far, 806 people have been admitted to hospital with the variant, a rise of 423 since last week.
Of these patients, 527 were unvaccinated, while just 84 of them had received both doses. Those who have been given both shots are estimated to have more than 90 per cent protection against hospitalisation, according to PHE.
As of Monday, 73 people in England were confirmed to have died within 28 days of testing positive for the Delta variant.
Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, said the majority of the new cases were detected in younger people who had not been vaccinated. She therefore called on the public to book vaccinations as soon as they were eligible to do so.
“It is encouraging to see that hospitalisations and deaths are not rising at the same rate but we will continue to monitor it closely. The vaccination programme and the care that we are all taking to follow the guidance are continuing to save lives,” Dr Harries said.
The Delta variant, which was first identified in India, is now dominant across the UK, leading Westminister and the devolved governments in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales to delay their next round of restriction easing until July at the earliest.
Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford has called the spread of the variant “concerning”, as it now accounts for four in every five coronavirus infections in Wales.
Speaking to Sky News on Friday, he said: “We now believe the new Delta variant is in every part of Wales and numbers are rising in the community, not just in specific settings.”
He explained that the delay was necessary to collect more data and to allow more than half a million more people to be vaccinated in Wales.