MORE than 80 cases of the Delta variant of Covid-19 have been identified across Dorset.

New figures released by Public Health England show that of the positive cases sequenced up to Wednesday, June 8, 62 in the BCP Council were the Delta variant.

In addition, the Dorset Council area had 24 Delta cases.

Public Health England said that genotype sequencing, which establishes which variant of the virus someone has, is being carried out on between 65 and 70 per cent of all positive tests.

New novel genotype testing arrangements mean that the detection of the variant can be given within 48 hours rather than the previous time of around two weeks.

Nationally, data indicates that more 90 per cent of new Covid-19 cases in the UK are now the Delta variant.

The variant, which originated in India, continues to show a significantly higher rate of growth compared to the Alpha variant, which was first found in the UK.

Positive tests identified through genotyping are subsequently confirmed through whole genome sequencing and recent data have shown them to be extremely accurate in indicating a positive variant result.

This allows earlier detection of trends and improved public health response.

These results have been available to health protection teams for several weeks and are already being used to develop local and national activities. Most recently, the tests allowed for the early identification of rising cases in areas including Greater Manchester and Lancashire

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.

Doctor Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, 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."

Public Health England said it is encouraging to see that the increase in cases is not yet accompanied by a similarly large increase in hospitalisations.

The agency said it will continue to monitor 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.