Zero positive Covid-19 tests in Northampton .. but five times more Indian variant cases countywide
First nought for in 434 days but health chiefs still warning people to be 'very cautious'
Northampton saw ZERO new Covid-19 cases in a 24-hour period for the first time in 434 days.
But the news on Thursday (May 27) came just an hour before Public Health England revealed cases of the fast-spreading Indian variant of concern in Northamptonshire are nearly FIVE TIMES more than previously thought.
That led to experts urging people to be "very cautious" as hospitalisations have begun rising in areas worst affected by the B.1.617.2 strain — including nearby Bedford.
Lower-tier authority data published for the first time on Thursday (May 27) showed at least 80 cases of the variant — also tagged VOC-21APR-02 — spread across Northamptonshire.
Of those, 45 have been in South Northants — where health officials said they were confident an outbreak at Nicholas Hawksmoor Primary School a fortnight ago had been contained.
A further 23 are in the former East Northamptonshire council area, nine in Northampton.
Corby, Kettering and Daventry are all listed as having had five cases or fewer.
It is not known how many cases are linked directly to international travel or have been contracted by contact within the UK.
Local health officials had previously confirmed 16 cases of variants of concern in the county — not all of which were the B.1.617.2 strain which has hit some areas of the country hard.
Nationally, cases of B.1.617.2 have risen by 3,535 to 6,959 since last week, although not all positive tests are sent for further examination to see if they are any of the five variants of concern listed by PHE.
Health secretary Matt Hancock told a Downing Street press conference last night: "Latest estimates are that more than half and potentially as many as three quarters of all new cases are now of this variant."
Dr Jenny Harries, UK Health Security Agency chief executive, said last night: "With cases of the variant first identified in India continuing to rise in some areas, we are urging people to be very cautious and follow the guidance on hygiene, face coverings, social distancing and meeting outdoors.
"Please follow the public health advice and make sure that you remain careful, work from home if you can, meet people outside where possible and remember ‘hands, face, space, fresh air’ at all times. This is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from this variant."
PHE studies have shown that two doses of Covid-19 vaccine offers high levels of protection against the Indian variant.
The majority of hospital admissions and deaths linked the the B.1.617.2 strain have been among those who have not been jabbed.
Public Health England's daily update showed 3,542 positive tests in the UK — the highest national figure since April 12 — but NONE in the former Northampton Borough.
It us the first time that has happened since March 18 last year when total number of cases in the town was just six.
The figure now stands at 18,375 with at least 531 known to have sadly died with the virus, according to the Office for National Statistics.
There were 19 positive tests in all of Northamptonshire included in yesterday's figures — 11 in Wellingborough plus four in the former Kettering and Corby boroughs.
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