Indian variant: Matt Hancock announces surge testing and vaccinations on North Tyneside

Tynemouth Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Surge testing will begin this weekend on North Tyneside after a rise in the number of coronavirus cases - specifically the Indian variant.

There's been a sharp rise in infections in the borough over the last seven days. So far 17 cases have been identified as the more transmissable variant - with a number of other probable cases being analysed.Analysis of waste water in North Tyneside detected the fast-moving Indian variant in the area. Surge testing and vaccinations will now be deployed across North Tyneside as well as Bedford, Burnley, Hounslow, Kirklees, and Leicester.

Matt Hancock said 2,967 cases of the Covid variant have now been recorded which is a 28% increase on the around 2,300 cases recorded on Monday.

“What this means in practice is we are putting in place more testing and more testing sites. On vaccinations, we are making more vaccinations available to everyone who is eligible.”

The Health Secretary added that “we are not yet opening up vaccinations to those who are 35 and younger”.

On 12 May, customers who'd been at Allard's Lounge in Tynemouth were asked to get a Covid test after a case of the Indian variant was linked to the bar.

Allard's Lounge, Tynemouth Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Today, North Tyneside Council's Covid Dashboard showed that there have been 88 new cases of the virus in the area in the last seven days. These new cases aren't all that of the Indian variant, but the council says "many confirmed cases of the variant are in circulation in the area".

The Director of Public Health for North Tyneside, Wendy Burke, has today said "we need to do everything we can to limit the transmission of Covid-19" referring to the fact that the majority of people under 50 haven't yet been vaccinated, and many over 50 are still awaiting their second dose.