Matt Hancock: ‘Covid patients with Indian variant failed to take up offer of vaccine’

Matt Hancock discusses ‘tackling’ Indian variant spread

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Ministers are sending in the Army to help after the coronavirus strain is behind a spike in the town. The Health Secretary refused to rule out a local lockdown to bring the surge under control. He said the 18 people in the area who are in hospital with the variant had been eligible for the Covid vaccine but did not take up the offer.

Another five patients were recorded as having had one jab and one person, described as “frail”, had received two jabs. Mr Hancock said: “At the moment we’re taking the approach that worked in south London which is this massive surge testing.

“But of course we don’t rule out further action.

“Given though Bolton has been in some form of kind of a lockdown for a year, it’s not a step we want to take but of course we might have to take it and we will if it’s necessary to protect people.”

Mr Hancock added that the approach being taken in Bolton and neighbouring Blackburn – which also has a high number of Indian variant cases – is to “absolutely pile in testing and vaccinations to try to get on top of this”.

The Health Secretary added: “We’ve put in a huge amount of testing, we’ve reinforced that with Army personnel as well, and we’re expanding the vaccination programme – especially
for those second jabs, which are the best protection against ending up in hospital.”

Vaccine squads are also being sent out door-to-door in the areas of Bolton that have the highest numbers of cases to offer jabs to entire households.

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