The Covid-19 Indian variant has been detected in an area of Essex, according to the county's public health chief.

Infection rates in parts of England have soared in the past week, with experts blaming the rise on the new variant.

On Thursday the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) reportedly held discussions about the spread of the Indian variant and how it could have an impact on the Government’s road map out of lockdown.

But Essex County Council's director of public health Dr Mike Gogarty said cases have been found in Chelmsford.

He could not confirm how many.

Dr Gogarty told BBC Essex he was "worried" about the variant.

Surge testing has begun in areas across England where the variants have already been found and Dr Gogarty confirmed he "wouldn't hesitate" if rates rise in Essex.

On Monday more restrictions are set to be eased as part of the governments roadmap out of lockdown.

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Changes include the return of indoor dining as hospitality venues are permitted to open indoor premises.

Gathering of up to 30 people will also be allowed in an outdoor setting.

Hotels, cinemas and museums will also be allowed to reopen.