Northern Ireland news

Concerns about Delta variant as 87 new Covid-19 cases recorded

The Delta variant first identified in India is associated with about double the risk of hospital admission compared with the Kent variant, new data suggests
Digital Staff

There have been no further deaths linked to Covid-19 in the Department of Health's latest update on the pandemic.

However, 87 new cases of the virus have been recorded and the seven-day infection rate in the north has risen to 36.9, the highest in has been in seven weeks. The area with highest rate is Derry and Strabane on 81.0, while the lowest remains Ards and North Down on 17.4.

There have been 694 cases of coronavirus confirmed in the past week, up from 521 in the previous week.

There are 15 hospital patients in the north who have tested positive for the virus with none in intensive care.

Overall, hospital bed occupancy is at 102 per cent or 66 beds over capacity. Five hospitals are operating beyond capacity; Antrim Hospital, Belfast City Hosptial, the Causeway Hospital in Coleraine, the Royal Victoria Hospital in west Belfast and the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald.

There are two confirmed outbreaks of Covid-19 in care homes.

Latest vaccination figures show 1,865,635 jabs have been administered; 1,114,098 first doses and 751,537 second doses.

Last week it was announced that the gap between doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines is to be reduced to a maximum of eight weeks, to better protect against the Delta variant.

Until now the interval between doses was up to 12 weeks but this is being shortened to offer recipients more protection against the Delta - or Indian - variant. 

The Delta variant first identified in India is associated with about double the risk of hospital admission compared with the Kent variant, new data suggests.

But researchers found that two vaccine doses still provided strong protection against the variant which is now dominant in the UK.

However, the level of protection may be at a lower level compared with the Alpha variant first detected in Kent, early research suggests.

Based on data analysed from 5.4 million people in Scotland, the Delta variant is now the dominant form of Covid-19 in the country.

For the study period: April 1 and June 6 this year; there were 19,543 community cases and 377 admissions to hospital where a specific variant of Covid-19 was confirmed.

Of these totals, 7,723 cases and 134 hospital admissions were found to have the Delta variant, which is thought to be about 60% more transmissible than the previously dominant Alpha variant.

As with other variants, people with underlying conditions were more at risk of being admitted to hospital, researchers said.

While vaccines were found to reduce the risk of being admitted to hospital, strong protective effects against the Delta variant were not seen until at least 28 days after the first vaccine dose, researchers found.

Meanwhile, in the Republic there have been 242 additional confirmed cases of Covid-19.

There are currently 67 patients in hospital with the disease, 23 of whom are in intensive care units.

Daily case numbers may change due to future data review, validation and update, owing to the cyberattack on the HSE.

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