At least 80 cases of a highly transmissible strain of Covid-19 first discovered in India were confirmed in Croydon according to data released by Public Health England (PHE) over the weekend.

Scientists believe the highly infectious B1617.2 variant of coronavirus may now make up three quarters of all new cases in the UK at present, and the data furthered fears of a 'third wave' of mass infections in south London and beyond.

Meanwhile, several south London boroughs including Croydon, Merton and Reigate and Banstead reported sharp rises in the number of new infections in the seven days up to May 26.

According to the data available via PHE's interactive map, Reigate and Banstead had a higher infection rate than any London borough with 69.9 cases per 100,000 people over the time period.

The total number of new infections in the borough over the seven days, 104, was up 83 and represented a huge rise of 395.2 per cent on the previous week's figure.

In Croydon, new coronavirus infections in the week up to May 26 totalled 164, a rise of 39 or 31.2 per cent on the previous figure. The borough's rolling rate stood at 42.2.

Neighbouring Sutton reported fewer cases but a sharper rise, with 41 new infections (a rise of 13 or 46.4 per cent).

Merton also reported a very steep increase in the number of new cases (55), which rose over 150 per cent in the week up to May 26.

Tuesday (June 1) was the second time since the coronavirus pandemic began that zero Covid-19 deaths were reported in the UK, according to the Government’s coronavirus dashboard.

The first was on July 30 2020.