CASES of the Indian variant of Covid-19 have been identified in Southampton.

A "very small number" of cases of the B.1.617.2 Covid strand - which first originated in India - have been detected in the city since the variant was first discovered, Southampton City Council has confirmed.

The news has been confirmed by Dr Debbie Chase, the director of public health at Southampton City Council.

She confirmed that, at this stage, there is no reason to think that the COVID-19 vaccine will not be effective at preventing severe infection and death from the Indian variant.

The number of cases, when they were identified, and their locations have not been disclosed.

Dr Chase said the cases were linked to foreign travel and "all cases and contacts were identified, individuals isolated and were supported".

She added that "we have no evidence to date to suggest community spread".

Dr Chase also confirmed that the council would be "working closely with Public Health England" to understand if there will ever be a need to offer surge testing in the city "should there be an increase in cases".

The news comes as yesterday Health Secretary Matt Hancock said cases of the Indian variant were identified across 86 local authorities areas.

Dr Chase said: "It is of vital importance that everyone accepts the vaccine when they are eligible. If you are eligible and have not yet taken the jab I would urge you to do so as soon as possible for your own health and for the community."

She added: "Cases of COVID-19 in Southampton are low but it remains a threat and we must continue to employ all the tools we have available to respond.

"Use symptom-free testing twice weekly if you don’t have symptoms, stay at home and get a PCR test if you do have symptoms.

"And keep doing the basics rights - remember hands, face, space and fresh air.

"This will be effective at reducing risk from all variants."