Covid-19: Surge testing to take place in Lancashire as region takes five of top 10 rate increase spots

Surge testing is being expanded across Lancashire as five areas of the region fall into the top 10 for highest infection rates for Covid-19 due to the Indian variant.

People living, studying and working in areas including Burnley, Pendle, Hyndburn and Rossendale are being urged to take a PCR test even if they do not have symptoms.

NHS Test and Trace is working with local authorities across the county to launch additional testing and genomic sequencing to trace the variant, now known as VOC-21APR-02.

Mobile testing units and Covid-19 tests are being deployed to higher educational settings, while door-to-door testing is also taking place to find and isolate cases.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said the people who tested positive for the Indian variant have been told to self-isolate and their contacts are being identified.

It comes as eight local authorities across the North West fell into the top 10 in the country for rate increases.

Rates are rising fastest in Rossendale, while Blackburn with Darwen's rates are also climbing, along with neighbouring Hyndburn.

It's led to suggestions that the June 21st deadline for lifting restrictions may have to be delayed for parts of Lancashire. The county's Director of Public Health Sakthi Karunanithi says his teams are concentrating not on deadlines but science

Bolton is still the worst area of the country - recording 403.1 cases per 100,000 people.

Covid-19 case rates per 100,000 in the week up to 24 May

  • Bolton - 403.1 up from 385.3

  • Blackburn with Darwen - 355.4 up from 186.4

  • Rossendale - 212.6 up from 40.6

  • Bedford - 195.0 up from 141.4

  • Kirklees - 109.6 up from 80.3

  • Hyndburn - 103.6 up from 51.8

  • Burnley - 95.6 up from 58.5

  • Manchester - 78.5 up from 42.7

  • Bury - 72.8 up from 46.1

  • Preston - 69.9 up from 44.7

  • Pendle - 69.5 up from 42.3

  • Chorley - 66.0 up from 47.4

Councils will confirm the areas where additional testing will be offered in their boroughs "shortly" and will also contact residents directly to ensure people come forward for testing.

Blackburn with Darwen has asked for military assistance to help with its testing, with the Chief Executive of the Council Denise Park urging everybody to play their part in the fight to bring down infection rates.

Along with increased testing in the Lancashire boroughs, so-called "enhanced contact tracing", where tracers look back over an extended period of time to determine the route of transmission, will be used for those who test positive for a variant of concern.

People who have symptoms can book free tests online or by phone, while those without symptoms are advised to visit their local council's website for more information.

The DHSC said: "The Government and its scientific experts are closely monitoring the evolving situation and rates of variants, and we will not hesitate to take additional action as necessary."

The latest surge testing comes after it emerged that 6,959 cases of the Indian variant of coronavirus had been confirmed in the UK up to May 26, a rise of 3,535 on the previous week.

Seven further areas in England have more than 100 confirmed cases of the Indian variant: Leicester (197), Sefton (175), Nottingham (158), Wigan (113), Central Bedfordshire (109), Manchester (105) and Hillingdon (102), PHE added.