Public urged to ‘minimise travel’ in north England’s ‘Delta’ variant hotspots in bid to control Covid strain’s spread

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The UK government has warned people in Lancashire and Greater Manchester to “minimise” travelling in and out of the areas amid the rise of the so-called ‘Delta’ variant of coronavirus, first detected in India.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced the new guidance on Tuesday and said the government would provide a “strengthened package of support” for the two areas of North West England.

He told MPs in Parliament that extra Covid-19 testing, military assistance and supervised in-school testing would all be available to support the four million residents affected.

Similar measures have already been taken in the town of Bolton in Greater Manchester, the area worst affected by the Delta variant.

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The government’s official guidance has been updated to advise people in the affected areas against meeting indoors and travelling.

On Monday, Hancock said the Delta variant now accounts for the “vast majority” of new Covid-19 infections in the UK and that it had replaced the ‘Alpha’ variant, first detected in England, as the country’s dominant strain.

Experts believe the variant is up to 40% more transmissible than Alpha. As of June 3, the UK had posted 12,431 cases of Delta, according to data from Public Health England.

Reacting to the government’s new guidance, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham told Sky News on Tuesday that the update “is advice to the public, it is not a lockdown, it is not a ban.”

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