Dozens more cases of Indian coronavirus variant detected in UK

22 April 2021, 19:11 | Updated: 22 April 2021, 19:39

Tests have found more cases of the Indian variant
Tests have found more cases of the Indian variant. Picture: PA

By Will Taylor

A further 55 cases of the Indian coronavirus variant have been discovered in the UK.

The variant, now detected in 132 cases, is being investigated to determine if it can spread faster or evade protection given by vaccines.

It comes ahead of India being placed on the red list on Friday morning, effectively banning most travel, amid concern that the variant could continue to spread in the UK.

Read more: Heathrow rejects requests for extra flights from India ahead of 'red list' move

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India has recorded a global record of new daily cases, having confirmed more than 314,000 in 24 hours.

The second most populous country in the world now has the second highest total of cases reported since the pandemic began, with its 15 million behind only the US.

Announcing the travel ban on Monday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: "India is a country I know well and love.

"Between our two countries we have ties of friendship and family.

"I understand the impact of this decision but I hope that the House will concur that we must act because we must protect the progress that we've made in this country in tackling this awful disease."

Concerns about the import of the variant led to Boris Johnson cancelling his trip to India, instead holding a summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi remotely.

The variant is not yet considered a variant of concern, like the one first detected in Kent which spread faster, or the South African variant, which has led to surge testing when it has been found in the UK.

Of the 132 confirmed cases, 119 have been detected in England, five were in Scotland and eight have been discovered in Wales.

It has not yet been detected in Northern Ireland.