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Politics news – live: Diphtheria cases rise by 50 per cent but public risk ‘low’

The Independent
The Independent
 2022-11-29

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New data has revealed a 50 per cent rise in the number of cases of diptheria in the past month, while two asylum-seekers have been hospitalised with the disease.

Health secretary Steve Barclay has insisted the risk of the public getting diphtheria is “very low” despite an expected rise in the number of infections being recorded.

He said hundreds of migrants were vaccinated against the highly contagious disease before being moved out of the Manston processing centre in Kent to hotels around the country, but stressed the situation was being monitored “closely”.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) had identified 39 diphtheria cases among asylum seekers in England this year by 10 November. The number is understood to have risen to about 50, with officials expected to confirm the figure later.

Asked about the risk to the general public, he added: “The risk is very low, partly because there is very high uptake of vaccination within the British public in the first place.

“But also we had a targeted action of vaccinations at Manston and so 500 people were vaccinated before they actually left Manston, and it’s something that UKHSA are monitoring extremely closely.”

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