The Delta variant is set to become the dominant strain across Wiltshire, it has been confirmed.

Cases linked to the new strain, previously known as the Indian variant, have been increasing rapidly in the past few weeks, both nationally and locally.

Across the UK, including the South West, the Delta variant has now become the dominant strain and the same is expected to happen in Wiltshire where the latest figures show a total of 41 cases linked to the latest virus mutation.

The spread of this new strain is behind the decision to postpone the end of all lockdown restrictions by four weeks.

'A week or two'

Although the majority of cases recorded in Wiltshire aren't currently linked to the Delta variant, they will be soon, a public health consultant has said.

Asked how many infections in the county are linked to the new variant, Wiltshire Council's Rachel Kent said: "We don't know the answer to every single case but what we do know is that [the Delta variant] is not the dominant strain this week.

"Within a week or two it will be the dominant strain just like the Kent variant."

Mrs Kent added: "We know it will become the dominant strain if it isn't already but we don't necessarily see all that data.

"Not every test will be genome-sequenced to [identify] what strain you've got but it's safe to say it will be."

'Much harder to contain'

In the Wiltshire Council area, Public Health England figures released on Friday June 11 show a total of 41 variant cases.

This time last month only five had been detected.

These were linked to individuals who had recently been abroad.

To start with, work went on to try to identify and contain these cases, Mrs Kent said.

"But once [the variant] seems to be spreading within the community it is much harder and that's why we're saying it's the dominant strain across the region and nationally," she added.

Despite this, members of the public "shouldn't be scared" of the new strain as the measures to keep the virus at bay - hand washing, mask wearing and social distancing - "are the same whatever the variant".

Latest figures

As of 4pm on Monday June 14, 141 new cases were picked up in the latest weekly period, compared to 57 in the previous week.

The current rate of cases in Wiltshire is 28.2 per 100,000 which is below the national average of 67.1.

You can see where cases have been rising in Wiltshire here.

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