While some cases have clear links with international travel, and therefore do not require operational follow up, Public Health Northamptonshire has received notifications from Public Health England (PHE) of a COVID-19 variant which requires investigation. These cases have been identified as part of a wider outbreak and require additional testing of wider contacts as they do not appear to be linked to international travel.
The variant was identified after a process known as sequencing was carried out on the tests taken by individuals who had tested positive for COVID-19, and on follow-up tests issued to their contacts.
As a precautionary measure, further testing of students and staff at a Northamptonshire school using PCR tests will be carried out, which enables any positive tests to be genome sequenced for variants of concern.
Based on the current number of variant cases surge testing or mass testing of the surrounding community is not currently required. However, should this be needed in future Public Health Northamptonshire has already carried out a door to door testing exercise in Corby last month so is well prepared to undertake this exercise.
Lucy Wightman Joint Director of Public Health - North and West Northamptonshire Councils says:
"Public Health England notified us on Tuesday that it had identified six cases of an Indian variant in Northamptonshire which do not appear to be linked to international travel but are part of a wider national cluster. PHE has already been in touch with the individuals concerned and their contacts.
Targeted testing will be taking place in a county school community as a precautionary measure.
There is currently no evidence that this variant causes more severe illness or increased risk of mortality.
This reminds us that the virus is still out there - it's our job to limit transmission wherever possible and the main route of that in Northamptonshire continues to be through household mixing. So although restrictions are easing, it is imperative that we continue to abide by the guidelines and follow the rules. Remember ‘Hands. Face. Space. Fresh air’ "
Everyone is encouraged to take up the offer of free rapid twice weekly testing so that we can stop the spread of the virus. There are a variety of ways in which you can access rapid (LFT) testing:
- Community-based Asymptomatic Testing sites at sites across the county
- Through the Community Collect service, where you can pick up packs for home use - find your nearest site
- If you can’t get to an asymptomatic testing site or easily access Community Collect you can order test kits for home delivery
If you have COVID-19 symptoms, you should immediately self-isolate and book a PCR test. Tests can be booked on the Test and Trace app, online at nhs.uk/coronavirus, or by calling 119.