Suffolk public health leaders say they are “closely monitoring” the Indian variant of Covid-19 after confirming a case of the strain was found in the county.
So far, one case of the B16172 variant – which was first identified in India and is believed to be linked to the country’s second wave – has been found in Suffolk, public health officials confirmed.
The county’s public health bodies are now working to identify additional cases.
According to Stuart Keeble, director of public health for Suffolk, “This variant is concerning and is being closely monitored. There is no clear evidence yet that it has a major impact on the severity of the disease or is evading the vaccine. Of particular concern is the speed of its growth.”
One case of the Indian Covid variant has been detected in Suffolk
“Our advice to people is to keep doing what you have been doing – wear a mask, wash your hands, maintain distancing, get vaccinated as soon as it become available to you and good ventilation if you meet others indoors from next week.
“The government is working in partnership with local authorities and the measures are in place to help control the spread of Covid-19 variants and rapidly break its chains of transmission.“
Mr Keeble added that people should also conduct routine twice-weekly testing to assist in containing the virus’s spread.
“Even if you have received both vaccinations, you can still pick up and transmit the virus,” he said.
“If you receive a positive result from a rapid test remember to book a confirmatory PCR test via 119 or .Gov website. This also enables us to identify potential variants.”
According to Public Health England results, the number of cases in the UK increased from 520 to 1,313 this week.
According to the Department of Health and Social Care, the Indian form is most prevalent in the North West of England, with some cases occurring in London.
In Bolton, which has one of the highest case rates in the world, mobile testing units have been deployed and 22,000 residents have been provided door-to-door PCR Covid testing.
Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary and West Suffolk MP, said the situation was being closely monitored and the Government “will not hesitate to take additional action if necessary.”
Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said that amid reservations about the variant, Monday’s easing of restrictions would proceed.
“We think that the roadmap for Monday remains in place, because the vaccines are delivering, and vaccines are keeping people out of hospital and, of course, away from severe infection.” he said.
He added that while the Government was “confident” that this would continue, officials would “continue to monitor” the situation.
What are the experts’ perspectives?
Professor Paul Hunter of the University of East Anglia’s School of Medicine said the Indian variant “clearly has been out-competing” the Kent variant in a variety of areas in the UK.
“Indeed, it has spread to the majority of the UK, with the possible exception of Yorkshire and the Humber in the north east, which appear to have had relatively few cases thus far,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
According to him, the strain seems to be slightly more resistant to coronavirus vaccines than the South African variant, adding: “It is not as resistant as the South African variant, but a little bit more resistant than the Kent variant”
He noted that the cases are growing among younger people, who have historically had fewer access to vaccines.