HAMPSHIRE county council has confirmed that no area of the county - including Basingstoke - is currently being considered a 'hotspot' of the 'double mutant' India Covid variant.

Speaking to the Gazette, a spokesperson said: “Our Public Health team works closely with Public Health England (PHE) to make sure people across Hampshire have the latest information about COVID-19, including guidance around new variants. PHE has confirmed that there are currently no ‘variant hotspots’ in the county, but we will continue to monitor this closely.

“It’s important to remember that, even though cases of the virus are low, the public health advice for residents remains the same, and will protect against all COVID-19 variants. Follow ‘hands, face, space’ – and let in fresh air when indoors.”

It comes after Public Health England announced earlier today that it was escalating the second train of the variant - first reported last week - from "under investigation" to "of concern" and would be working with local authorities to help reduce spread.

In a statement published this afternoon (Friday, May 7), the team wrote: "Following a rise in cases in the UK and evidence of community transmission, PHE has reclassified VUI-21APR-02 (B.1.617.2, classified as a Variant Under Investigation (VUI) on 28 April) as a Variant of Concern (VOC), now known as VOC-21APR-02.

"This is based on evidence which suggests this variant, first detected in India, is at least as transmissible as B.1.1.7 (the Kent variant). The other characteristics of this variant are still being investigated."

It added: "PHE health protection teams are working with local authorities, Directors of Public Health (DsPH) and NHS Test and Trace to detect cases and limit onward spread."