Scientists say the variant of coronavirus first identified in India is now the dominant strain in the UK. Cases associated with the variant, known as Delta, rose by almost 80% over the last week to 12,431.
It has now overtaken the Kent, or Alpha, variant and may also be a higher risk of hospitalisation linked to the Indian variant in the country. UK health authorities advice that it remains vital that people continue to exercise as much caution as possible.
The north west of England is said to be the most affected area of the country. Confirmed cases of the Delta variant in Bolton have risen by 795 over the past week to 2,149, with Blackburn seeing a near doubling of cases to 724 in total.
But scientists say there is encouraging signs that the transmission rate in Bolton has begun to fall and that the actions taken by residents and local authority teams have been successful in reducing spread.
Early analyses from England and Scotland suggest that people infected with the Delta variant could be twice as likely to need hospital care.
But there are still low numbers of people being admitted to hospital with any variant, and PHE stress that more data are needed to confirm this analysis.
In the last week, 94 people in England were admitted to hospital after attending A&E with the Delta variant.
The latest data suggest that there have been 97 confirmed outbreaks in primary and secondary schools that have had at least one variant case linked to them over the most recent four-week period. That represents around one in 250 schools in the UK.
It said its protection teams continue to work closely with local authorities and academies to carry out surveillance to better understand and reduce transmission in these settings.
Credit BBC Health