FAMILIES who refused to quarantine after trips to India have been blamed for the rise in variant cases in Bolton.
Locals think people travelling home from the Covid-ravaged country may have brought the Indian variant to the town, before it became a hotspot.
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Some have suggested some of those returning to the UK didn't carry out the ten days self-isolation, to stop the spread of the virus.
Mohammed Khan, owner of a travel agency in the Greater Manchester town, told the MailOnline: "It’s very selfish. People just think about themselves and their own pleasure.
"Just because you can’t go to a restaurant or a cinema for a few months, you want to go to a completely different country."
"I don’t want a third lockdown. It’s a team effort. We all have to be in it together."
Bolton emerged as a hotspot for the Indian variant in the last few weeks, with surge testing deployed and locals asked to be vigilant.
It's infection rate is 384.6 per 100,000 residents – a huge leap compared to the England average of 20.6.
More than 90 per cent of new cases there are now thought to be the Indian variant, which is believed to spread faster than the Kent mutation.
There have been 780 deaths linked to Covid in the town, with 982 positive tests in the week up to May 16.
The Indian variant was found in a cluster of three neighbourhoods – Deane, Rumworth and Great Lever – that houses around 33,000 people in tightly packed streets.
"Around here there could be between two and eight in a two-bedroom house," said John Openshaw, 73, a Deane resident.
"If you are talking about those numbers and Covid kicks off in a house, it is going to spread and spread."
Just over 40 per cent of people living there are from a British-Indian and British Pakistani background.
But experts think the surge of the Indian variant has been fuelled by poverty, dense housing and multi-generational homes in the areas, rather than ethnicity.
Many households have multiple generations in the same home, with more than a quarter living in poverty.
A local shopkeeper added people had been following the rules in the first lockdown, but "plenty" have broken restrictions recently.
He said "People have been coming out when they should have been isolating."
This week we told how Indian variant cases have more than doubled in a week with over 3,000 Brits now infected.
Public Health England said on Thursday 3,424 cases have now been found, a rise of 2,111 since last week.
Cases are still largely affecting the North West of England – particularly Bolton – and London, but clusters of cases are now being seen across the country.
Bolton, Blackburn with Darwen and Bedford have been the main areas where worrying numbers of cases had been identified.
Matt Hancock also revealed surge testing has started in eight new areas – Bedford, Burnley, Hounslow, Kirklees, Leicester, North Tyneside, Glasgow and Moray (on top of Bolton and Blackburn).
Scientists are certain the Indian variant B.1.617.2 can spread faster than the “original” coronavirus strain from Wuhan.
And they are also now certain it is more transmissible than the highly infectious Kent strain – possibly by up to 50 per cent.
The NHS is now in a race to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible against the spread of the Indian variant. At least 30 per cent of adults are still waiting for one vaccine dose.
New data revealed yesterday found the Pfizer jab is 88 per cent effective against the Indian variant – but only after two doses.
Just getting one shot of either Pfizer or AstraZeneca gives 33 per cent protection against the mutation, so it's best to get both jabs.
While it's still possible to catch the virus despite being vaccinated, the jabs will be much more effective in stopping hospitalisations and deaths.
And it's a positive sign for the UK with hopes we are on track for the day of freedom on June 21 when all restrictions are expected to be dropped.
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