England pilots new support initiatives to boost self-isolating in higher COVID areas

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LONDON (Reuters) - New support initiatives will be piloted in nine areas of England with higher COVID rates, including from variants, as part of government efforts to boost testing and self-isolation, the health ministry said on Monday.

The incidence of infections in Britain is still low but clusters of the Indian variant, believed to be more transmissible than the dominant Kent variant, are growing, and could derail plans to further ease lockdown measures.

A total of 12 million pounds ($17 million) will be provided by government for accommodation for those in overcrowded households, social care support and communications assistance for those who don't have English as their first language, among other steps.

Funding will go to several areas including Yorkshire, Lancashire and the London borough of Hackney.

"Variants have the potential to be a Trojan horse for our hard-won progress and it is more vital than ever that we do what we can to show them the exit door, following the rules and self-isolating when asked," said health minister Matt Hancock.

(Reporting by Costas Pitas; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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