Edward Argar, the health minister, said that there had been a “minor increase” in hospital presentations in Bolton. This was seen particularly among those aged between 35 and 65 who have not had the vaccine.
Cases of the Indian variant have almost tripled in the past week with surge testing deployed across parts of London, Sefton, Worcestershire, and Nottingham in a move to try and curb the spread.
Meanwhile, in Bolton, Blackburn and Darwen, the army is to be deployed to aid mass testing.
Prof Anthony Harnden, an advisor to the government on vaccinations, said there were still “lots of unvaccinated people in at-risk groups in these areas”.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme he said: “The worry is that those unvaccinated vulnerable individuals, those over-50, unvaccinated, will develop Covid from this more transmissible [variant] and end up in hospital.”
In Scotland, the first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has revealed that initial research has shown the recent Covid outbreak in parts of Glasgow is being driven by the Indian variant. Lockdown restriction easing has been delayed both here and in Moray.
Prof Harnden said that although the Indian variant was “clearly more transmissible” than the current circulating virus type, vaccines should still protect people from more severe cases of Covid.
He added: “That’s why we’re imploring [local authorities] to get out there and vaccinate their unvaccinated people.”
Second doses of the coronavirus vaccine will also be speeded-up for those in older age groups living in the affected areas. This should offer “better short-term protection” in an “urgent situation” according to Prof Harnden.
Dr Helen Wall, who is in charge of the vaccination effort in Bolton, said that they intended to try and distribute 4,000 jabs on Saturday, reported the BBC.
The news comes as the prime minister, Boris Johnson, warned that a surge in infections of the new variant could slow England’s final step out of lockdown, currently planned for 21 June.
Mr Johnson said that currently he did not think “present evidence” indicated a need to delay the easing of lockdown restrictions expected to take place on Monday 17 May.
The British Medical Association warned, however, that the government should lift restrictions with the “utmost caution”.
In Bolton, there will be an acceleration of the vaccine rollout which is set to include longer opening hours at vaccination centres, as well as an increase in doses delivered to the town. A vaccine bus has also been set up to help increase vaccine uptake in the area.
Meanwhile, extra clinics are due to open in Blackburn and Darwen, in Lancashire, from next week. Door-to-door PCR testing is also being offered to 22,000 Bolton residents.
A team including 100 nurses, public health advisers and environmental health officers have also been deployed to the area.
Cases of the Indian variant in the UK to date have almost tripled in the past week to 1,313, according to Public Health England (PHE).
Of these cases, 1,255 are in England, 35 in Scotland, 12 in Northern Ireland and 11 in Wales, according to PHE.