There are continuing concerns about the Indian variant, as infections continue to rise again (Image: Adam Gerrard / Sunday Mirror)

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Coronavirus cases in the UK are up by 65% in one week as 5,341 new infections were announced today.

A spike in cases of the Indian variant is behind the latest surge, with today's figure way up on last Saturday when 3,240 infections were recorded.

Health officials also announced four new coronavirus deaths today.

Friday's daily Covid figures revealed 6,238 new cases – the highest number since late March.

Although infections are soaring, an NHS expert says the vaccine appears to have "broken the chain" between catching coronavirus and becoming seriously ill.

Chris Hopson, the chief executive of NHS Providers, said the number of people in hospital with the Covid-19 variant first detected in India, also known as the Delta variant, was not increasing "very significantly".

Some 5,341 new Covid infections were announced today
(Image: JPI Media / SWNS.COM)

He told BBC Breakfast that many of those in hospital in Bolton – which has the highest number of cases of the Indian variant in England – were younger than in previous waves of the pandemic.

It is understood there are GPs in Bolton who have begun offering vaccines at a 28-day gap, in the face of pressure not to waste any doses.

Some patients are believed to have been contacted by text message to say they are eligible for a second jab after four weeks, rather than the eight to 12 week gap advised by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

Comments on the NHS Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) Facebook page indicate 16 and 17-year-olds are being offered a vaccine.

Speaking about hospitals, Mr Hopson said on Saturday: "The people who came in this time round were actually a lot younger and were a lot less at risk of very serious complication, less at risk of death, and what that means is that they were less demand on critical care.

"What we think we can start to say now, based on that experience, is that it does look as though the vaccines have broken the chain between catching Covid-19 and potentially being very, very seriously ill and potentially dying.

An NHS expert says the vaccine appears to have "broken the chain" between catching coronavirus and becoming seriously ill
(Image: Press Association Images)

"There were very, very few people who have had those double jabs and had been able to have that build-up of protection after those jabs."

Mr Hopson said in the most recent phase of the pandemic the number of people in hospital in Bolton with Covid-19 peaked at 50, compared to 170 in November and 150 in January and February.

"Infection rates have been increasing in a number of different places," Mr Hopson said.

"We know that the hospitalisations are increasing, the rates of people coming into hospital in those areas are rising. But they are not rising very significantly."

Of the 12,431 Indian variant cases so far confirmed in the UK, 10,797 are in England, 1,511 in Scotland, 97 in Wales and 26 in Northern Ireland.