Covid: 6 cases of Indian variant identified in Towcester
Statement issued by local resilience forum
The Northamptonshire Local Resilience Forum release this statement on Friday evening
In common with many other areas of the UK Northamptonshire now has confirmed cases of an Indian variant of concern, in Towcester, South Northamptonshire.
On Tuesday we were told by PHE that it had identified six cases of an Indian variant. These 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.
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.
In line with guidance plans were immediately put into place by Public Health Northamptonshire to test in a school community, with pupils, parents and household contacts, plus childcare bubbles being requested to take part in the mass testing.
This testing is using PCR tests so any positive cases found can then be genome sequenced for variants of concern.
Kits are being picked up – one PCR test per person – along with details of how to register the kits and take the test. Completed kits are then dropped back at the school location.
Arrangements have been made for those unable to leave home to have kits dropped off and picked up.
Although obviously concerning for local residents there is currently no evidence that this variant causes more severe illness or increased risk of mortality.
However during the time of this mass testing we would ask you to be cautious in their behaviour and not mix with others outside your household or childcare bubble unless absolutely necessary.
Initial tests take 24-46 hours to provide a positive or negative result with genomic sequencing an additional 72 hours to process so we will begin to know more early next week as to whether surge testing of the local community will be required.
Should this be needed 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: “The school has been hugely supportive, both in quick actions at the start of the outbreak and in enabling us to facilitate whole school community testing.
“This operation is now underway, with trained staff providing support to the school community, however you can also support your town by doing your best to curb the spread locally.
“This outbreak 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.
“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’
“Please also 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, although of course if you have symptoms you should immediately self-isolate and book a PCR test through the Test and Trace app, online at nhs.uk/coronavirus, or by calling 119.
“I’d like to thank the school community for their support so far. From what we have seen today in the response to the first parts of the testing we are sure that the remaining residents of Towcester will be as supportive, should the need for surge testing arise.”
If you are not part of those invited for testing through the school community, can we request that you allow those involved to continue the operation – which will continue through the weekend and into early next week – by staying away from the location.
If you feel concerned you may have been exposed you can access lateral flow testing at Brackley Leisure Centre or if you have symptoms PCR testing at Tove Car Park NN12 6LD - for this you need to book through the Test and Trace app, online at nhs.uk/coronavirus, or by calling 119.