Following a rise in cases in the UK and evidence of community transmission, PHE has reclassified B.1.617.2 as a Variant of Concern (VOC). This is based on evidence which suggests this variant, first detected in India, is at least as transmissible as B.1.1.7 (the Kent variant). The other characteristics of this variant are still being investigated.
Cases of B.1.617.2 have increased to 520 from 202 over the last week and almost half the cases are related to travel or contact with a traveller. The cases are spread across the country, however, the majority of the cases are in 2 areas – the North West (predominantly Bolton) and London – and this is where we are seeing the greatest transmission.