Health Secretary Matt Hancock has ordered surge testing in Kirklees after cases of the Indian variant of Covid-19 were identified in Huddersfield.

Almost 3,000 cases of the Indian variant of concern have been found in the UK, an increase of 600 since Monday.

As well as Kirklees, increased testing and vaccinations will take place in Bedford, Burnley, Hounslow, Leicester, North Tyneside, Glasgow and Moray.

Rachel Spencer-Henshall, strategic director for public health at Kirklees Council, said: “We are submitting proposals to work with government to bring in extra vaccination and testing capacity.

“We have positive levels of vaccine uptake in Kirklees but, by speeding up its delivery and adding more pop-up clinics where they’re needed most, we can reduce infection rates and protect local people.

“This support will help us to build on what the council, NHS and partner organisations are already doing. Ultimately, we want to be able to increase the number of people eligible to be vaccinated and boost our capacity in parts of the borough where vaccine uptake is lower.

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“Kirklees was one of the first local authorities to introduce Lateral Flow Testing for everyone in the community and local people have played their part enthusiastically in protecting themselves, their families and their neighbours.

“I’m confident residents will take part in additional testing which is essential in reducing transmission.

Helen Broscombe receives her jab in Birkby

“As we’ve been reporting in recent weeks, our infection rate is one of the highest in the country and is rising. We’re already doing a lot to try to bring our infection rate down.

“Currently, council staff are out in the community talking to local people and businesses every day about how they can play their part to reduce the spread of the infection.

“We are delivering community testing for thousands of residents each week and our local contact tracing is helping to contain the spread. We are also working with our partners in the NHS to arrange pop-up vaccination clinics – including in harder to reach communities and workforces most at risk.

“Our Community Champions are making sure everyone has the right advice and access to their vaccination. In line with restrictions lifting, we’re working closely to support businesses and venues to re-open safely. We’re also carrying out PCR testing on close contacts of those who tested positive for the Indian variant recently.

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“Whilst deaths and hospitalisations related to the virus remain at a low level in Kirklees, we have to make sure our infection rate does not continue to increase and lead to this changing.

“It’s difficult to know why our infection rate is as high as it is but we do know how to prevent the virus from spreading because it remains the same. We all need to play our part so we can get Kirklees through the roadmap out of lockdown safely.

“Please all continue to wash your hands well and often, wear a face covering and make sure you’re social distancing when you’re out. Please also remember that it’s so much safer outdoors if you are meeting with people form outside your household for any reason. Increasing ventilation when you are indoors with people you do not live with is important too. Getting tested regularly, or if you have symptoms, is another important way to keep our community safe.

“Crucially, I’m urging everyone to please take the vaccine when it’s their turn. In the meantime, anyone over the age of 36 can get a vaccination and I strongly encourage you to book yours now if you’re eligible.”