Bedford’s director of public health said she was “really worried” about the local increase in Covid-19 cases linked to the Indian variant.
Vicky Head said cases in the borough had jumped from “three or four” a day to up to 10 times that figure over the past month.
Bedford has the second-highest rate of coronavirus in England, with 214 new cases recorded in the seven days to May 13.
“We are now up to 10 times that”
Speaking to BBC Breakfast on Tuesday, Ms Head said there had been 80 confirmed cases of the Indian variant recorded in Bedford.
She said: “What we know is what we’ve been seeing locally, which is a really massive rise in cases.
“About three or four weeks ago we were having three or four cases a day.
“We are now up to 10 times that.”
She added: “What we think now is that pretty much all of our cases are likely to be the variant from India.”
Ms Head said a “surge” in Covid-19 testing was being planned for parts of the borough to identify those who have the virus, but are not showing symptoms, and to ensure they self-isolate.
Asked if she was worried about the spread of the variant, Ms Head said: “I am really worried about it.
“Everyone needs to understand just how transmissible this variant is.”
“Really striking thing”
Bedford’s Covid-19 rate jumped from 61.2 cases in the week up to May 6 to 123.5 per 100,000 people in the seven days to May 13.
It is only behind Bolton in Greater Manchester, which continues to have the highest rate in England, with 811 new cases recorded in the seven days to May 13.
The figures have been calculated by the PA news agency based on Public Health England data published on May 17 on the Government’s coronavirus dashboard.
Ms Head said: “That’s one of the really striking things about the variant, is just how transmissible it is.
“If someone goes to school and tests positive, we are then seeing their whole family test positive.”
Ms Head said she remained “confident” in the vaccine programme as most of the new cases in Bedford were recorded in those aged under 40.
She added: “We have seen a small uptick in our inpatient numbers at the hospital, but nothing that makes me feel like we are not seeing a vaccine that is effective.”