A surge in Covid cases caused by the new Indian variant has left Bedford residents fearing a local lockdown.

And there's a concern in general for the increasing cases in the area, as numbers have more than doubled in the last week to a rate of 105 per 100,000 people.

The virus is spreading the fastest among those aged 11 to 22 in the area, according to the most recent Bedford Borough snapshot.

The majority of people in that age range won't be getting the vaccine at all under current rules, with 18 to 22-year-olds set to be last in line to get their jabs.

Speaking on the prospect of another lockdown in the area, Bedford's council lead on health and wellbeing told the Daily Mail: "Local lockdowns don't work.

Bedford
Covid jabs are being offered to younger people despite the current government guidance stating it should go to those aged 38 and over

"Our local economy can’t sustain it, and people will just move elsewhere, they’ll take the virus to Luton or London. And why wouldn’t they? They’ve had a whole year of this."

Officials started vaccinating younger people on Friday last week amid fears of case numbers rising, despite the official government guidance restricting calls to people aged 38 and over.

Teachers and parents with children who go to Bedford Academy were invited to use any spare doses of the vaccine.

"It wasn’t easy within the current rules but we managed to get it done in partnership with our local hospital and the local clinical commissioning group who had a limited number of spare Pfizer vaccines going," Bedford Mayor, Dave Hodgson told The Mail on Sunday.

He added: "The school is in an area with higher deprivation and increased levels of vaccine hesitancy so we think it was the right thing to do to help reduce transmission."

The guidance coming in from tomorrow, May 17, states that masks in schools are no longer compulsory.

However, Mr Hodgson said he has strongly advised local schools to continue asking pupils to wear masks. He also suggested pupils continue operating in their bubbles.

This news comes as the Indian Covid strain could trigger the biggest wave since the pandemic began if it more infectious than other variants, experts have warned.

Any variant that is more transmissible could see such a surge in hospital admission resulting in the NHS being swamped even with the vaccination roll-out.

In minutes released on Friday night, Government scientists say that the new Indian variant could be 50% more infectious than the Kent strain that swept the UK over Christmas.

If this is the case, the Indian variant could lead to 1,000 deaths a day and 10,000 daily hospitalisations by the summer.

Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty last night admitted that it is 'highly likely that the strain is more transmissible'.

He warned if it is proven the UK could see 'a really significant surge' in Covid-19 cases.