RESIDENTS have been urged to be extra-vigilant over Covid safety after its Indian variant was detected locally.

Blackburn with Darwen Council leaders issued the warning as coronavirus rates continue to rise in the borough.

They revealed that cases of the variant first detected in India have been identified in three wards - Shear Brow and Corporation Park, Billinge and Beardwood and Bastwell and Daisyfield.

With the Muslim festival of Eid taking place tomorrow, they said regular testing and following the guidelines on social distancing and handwashing were more important than ever.

The Indian variant appears to spread more easily but there is no evidence it causes more severe illness, is more deadly or makes the current vaccines less effective.

Latest figures show Blackburn with Darwen has 90.2 cases per 100,000.

This is the third highest rate in England, with 135 cases recorded in the seven days to May 7.

The current rate of 90.2 is up from 52.1, to levels last seen at the end of March.

In a statement council leader Cllr Mohammed Khan, chief executive Denise Park, and public health director Professor Dominic Harrison said: “We understand people will be anxious to know we have found cases of the variant first identified in India locally, but please don’t be overly worried – we expect the virus to mutate and variants are likely to be part of how we live with Covid-19.

“There is also currently no evidence this variant causes more deaths, severe illness or escapes vaccines. However it is now important to act by getting tested as soon as possible if you’re feeling under the weather, even if you don’t have the three classic symptoms of a fever, loss of taste or smell, or a cough.

“Whilst the Prime Minister announced we can progress to step three of the government’s roadmap next week, we need everyone to be extra vigilant.

“It is important people celebrating Eid do so safely, by following the rules and only meeting people not in their household outside.

“If you’re making plans to meet friends and family outside in parks and gardens this Eid, we urge you to get a rapid test first. If you get a positive rapid test, you must get a confirmatory PCR test.

“We are appealing to everyone in Blackburn with Darwen – not just those in the three wards where cases are highest – to help protect family, friends, workmates and community by following the hands, face, space, fresh air advice. When invited, please come forward to be vaccinated.”