Covid cases double in Bolton and Blackburn over one week amid Indian variant concerns

17 May 2021, 18:22 | Updated: 17 May 2021, 18:28

People queue for the vaccination centre at the Essa Academy in Bolton
People queue for the vaccination centre at the Essa Academy in Bolton. Picture: PA

By Will Taylor

Cases of the coronavirus have doubled in the last week in Bolton and Blackburn, Matt Hancock has revealed.

Speaking to MPs in the House of Commons, the Health Secretary announced that although the Indian variant appears to be more transmissible, early data shows vaccines appear to be effective against the variant.

He said: "There's now 2,323 confirmed cases of B.1617.2 in the UK - 483 of these cases have been seen in Bolton and Blackburn with Darwen, where it's now the dominant strain.

"Cases there have doubled in the last week and are rising in all age groups.

"In Blackburn, hospitalisations are stable with eight people currently in hospital with Covid, and in Bolton 19 people are now in hospital with coronavirus - the majority of whom are eligible for a vaccine but haven't yet had a vaccine.

"This shows the new variant is not tending to penetrate into older, vaccinated groups and it underlines again the importance of getting the jab especially - but not only - amongst the vulnerable age groups."

Read more: Social distancing measure review could be pushed back over Indian variant concerns

Read more: Sadiq Khan calls for young Londoners to be vaccinated to protect against Indian variant

Surge testing has been deployed to the North West, with 50 new vaccinators set up in two new centres to give out jabs, Mr Hancock added.

There are 86 local authorities with more than five confirmed cases.

However with early data suggesting vaccines are still effective against the variant, the rate of vaccination in Bolton has quadrupled.

"To anyone who feels hesitant, not just in Bolton or Blackburn, but to anyone who feels hesitant about getting the vaccine right across the country, just look at what is happening in Bolton Hospital where the majority of people in hospital with coronavirus were eligible for the jab but have chosen not yet to have the jab and have ended up in hospital - some of them in intensive care," Mr Hancock said in the Commons.

"Vaccines save lives, they protect you, they protect your loved ones and they will help us all get out of this pandemic."