NEW tests have revealed how many cases involving the Delta variant of coronavirus are in Swindon and around the UK.

Novel genotyping tests which provide results in 48 hours are being used to detect the variant which originally came from India.

Data from these tests is available for the first time this week, as Public Health England figures show that cases have risen by 29,892 to 42,323.

Swindon has had 57 cases of the variant confirmed, which is more than most areas in the south west.

Only the 62 recorded around Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, and the 158 in the City of Bristol, exceed the borough's total.

Several parts of the south west have had fewer than five Delta variant cases recorded, including South Somerset, East Devon and North Devon.

The data indicates that more than 90 per cent of new Covid-19 cases in the UK are now the Delta variant, which continues to show a significantly higher rate of growth compared to the Alpha variant.

Positive tests identified through genotyping are later confirmed through whole genome sequencing. The latest data has shown these tests to be extremely accurate in indicating a positive variant result.

This helps Public Health England to detect trends earlier and improve its response to tackling the infectious disease.

These results have been available to health protection teams for several weeks and are already being used to develop local and national activities.

New research from Public Health England suggests that the Delta variant is associated with an approximately 60 per cent increased risk of household transmission compared to the Alpha variant.

Growth rates for Delta cases are high across the regions, with regional estimates for doubling time ranging from 4.5 days to 11.5 days

The increase in cases is not yet accompanied by a similarly large increase in hospitalisations.

PHE will continue to monitor the cases closely over the next few weeks, but the data currently suggest that the vaccination programme continues to mitigate the impact of this variant in populations who have high two-dose vaccine coverage.

Chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency Dr Jenny Harries said: "With numbers of Delta variant cases on the rise across the country, vaccination is our best defence.

"If you are eligible, we urge you to come forward and be vaccinated. Remember that two doses provide significantly more protection than a single dose.

“However, while vaccination reduces the risk of severe disease, it does not eliminate it.

"With data showing that Delta is significantly more transmissible than Alpha, it is just as important as ever to follow public health advice, which has not changed.

"Get vaccinated, work from home where you can and remember “hands, face, space, fresh air” at all times. These measures work, and they save lives.”