The former mill town of Bolton has been revealed as the UK hotspot for the new Covid 19 strain detected in India which has been escalated to a 'variant of concern'.
Urgent measures to contain the variant are in the works in the town including surge testing and a strengthened vaccination campaign urging people to get the jab.
Areas within the BL3 postcode in Bolton, Greater Manchester, registered a small number of cases of the variant, leading to widespread testing.
Surge testing is increased testing (including door-to-door testing in some areas) and enhanced contact tracing in specific locations.
It involves testing of people who do not have any symptoms of coronavirus.
Surge testing centres with Lateral Flow Device (LFD) tests have been set up in venues including a Hindu temple in addition to a large Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) site.
As well as being the hotspot for the new strain, Bolton has recorded the second highest Covid infection rate in the country with cases continuing to rise.
Weekly data shows that Bolton had the second highest Covid-19 case rate in England for the seven days to May 3 up to 89 cases per 100,000 people.
Compared to the average in the country which sits at 20.6 cases per 100,000 people for the same period.
The bad news for Bolton comes as the latest national data showed daily coronavirus infections and deaths remained flat yesterday, while it emerged the vaccine rollout has now reached more than 35million people.
There were 2,490 positive tests across the country in the past 24 hours, according to the Department of Health's daily update, which was up very slightly on the number last Friday (4 per cent).
Officials also recorded another 15 lab-confirmed deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid swab, the same amount that were recorded a week ago.
The former mill town of Bolton has been revealed as the UK hotspot for the new Covid 19 strain detected in India which has been escalated to a 'variant of concern'
Areas within the BL3 postcode in Bolton, Greater Manchester, registered a small number of cases of the variant, leading to widespread testing
One area, Rumworth South, has seen cases skyrocket by 500 percent, with an infection rate of 359.3 per 100,000 people.
Public health officers will be going door-to-door to explain the emergency situation unfolding in Bolton.
The Department of Health said a 'small number' of cases of the variant first identified in South Africa (B.1.351) and a cluster of cases of the B.1.617.2 variant first identified in India had been found.
There were 2,490 positive tests across the country in the past 24 hours, according to the Department of Health's daily update, which was up very slightly on the number last Friday (4 per cent)
Officials also recorded another 15 deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid swab, the same amount that were recorded a week ago
It comes as Public Health England (PHE) upgraded the Indian variant to a 'variant of concern'.
The majority of Indian variant cases are in the North West, predominantly Bolton, and London, where there has also been increased transmission.
Bolton Council's Director of Public Health, Dr Helen Lowey, said: 'There is no evidence these variants cause more severe illness, there is some evidence that the Indian variant spreads more easily than other Covid-19 variants so it is the one that we want to stop and contain.
No10's top scientists calculated the R rate had fallen compared to last week, when it was between 0.8 and 1.1 across England. But they said the measure was becoming less reliable because of low numbers of cases, deaths and hospitalisations
'We are working closely with our partners across the community to identify people who have the virus, to increase the numbers of our eligible residents having the vaccine and to remind us all that Covid has not gone away.
'These measures are designed to bring the virus under control, but there are basic things we can all do to stop Covid spreading.
'Wash your hands regularly, wear a face covering, maintain social distancing, keep areas well ventilated and take up the vaccine when it is offered.'
Dr Helen Wall, Senior Responsible Officer of the Covid-19 Vaccination Programme in Bolton, said:
'It is proven that vaccination has a significant impact on the spread and severity of the virus, so we will be taking steps to provide additional capacity in these areas.
'We have a good track record of vaccination and a high level of confidence in the programme already in Bolton and we aim to build on that with some targeted vaccination work to try and nip this in the bud to protect everyone in Bolton.
'We are so close to getting things back to normal; let's keep up the momentum and stop this virus from spreading further.'