The number of confirmed UK cases of the coronavirus variant first detected in India have more than doubled this week, from 520 to 1313 cases.
There are growing concerns over the variant, which appears to be spreading more quickly than others.
Public Health England said it is actively monitoring the impact of the variant and its severity and “is taking all appropriate public health actions to limit the spread”.
It added cases and clusters are being rapidly investigated to identify close contacts of those who test positive to encourage testing uptake and to ensure that people self-isolate when required.
Additional control measures, including targeted case finding, will be implemented where there is evidence of increased spread and investigations are underway in specific settings to investigate clusters and outbreaks.
Dr Susan Hopkins, Covid-19 strategic response director at Public Health England, said: “Cases of this variant are rising in the community and we are continuously monitoring its spread and severity to ensure we take rapid public health action.
“We need to act collectively and responsibly to ensure that variants do not impact on the progress we have all made to drive down levels of Covid-19 and the increased freedom that brings.”
The so-called ‘Indian variant’ was confirmed as a variant of concern on 7 May, following a rise in cases and evidence of spread in some areas.
Officials announced today that all adults will be offered a Covid vaccine in parts of Lancashire, where there has been a spike in cases of the Indian variant.
The Prime Minister today said he was “anxious” about the variant and is “ruling nothing out” to tackle it.
More than 60,000 additional PCR test kits have been distributed so far as part of ongoing surge testing activity for the variant, technically known as VOC-APR21-02, with cases and close contacts traced and asked to isolate.
Officials have said there is currently insufficient evidence to indicate it causes more severe disease or makes the current vaccines less effective.
However, the government has struck a deal with pharma company CureVac to develop vaccines against future variants and has pre-ordered 50m doses.