Health chiefs say spikes in the Indian variant in parts of the country are a timely of the presence of Covid and the risk to health it still poses.
Although the overall rates in Staffordshire remain low, there have been ten cases in the county of Covid variants first identified in India since mid-March. Following genotyping, eight of these were found to be the Variant of Concern (VOC).
Six of these cases have been found in Stafford, three in Tamworth and one in East Staffordshire and are largely related to households.
All of the initial cases were picked up by random sampling of positive cases, and their close contacts have been traced and are isolating. Some other contacts are being tested as a precaution.
It is thought that these cases contracted infection outside of the county, with no evidence that it has spread to the wider community.
Each incident is being managed on a case-by-case basis, and there are no plans for mass testing at the current time.
The Indian ‘variant of concern’ by is currently being monitored closely by Public Health England.
Dr Richard Harling, Director for Health and Care at Staffordshire County Council said: “It is inevitable that the Indian variant would make its way to Staffordshire after being seen in other parts of the country.
“We are working closely with Public Health England to ensure all cases have their contacts traced and managed, so we can identify and isolate any further cases quickly. There is no evidence to suggest that it has spread to the wider community at the moment.”
Dr Johnny McMahon, the county council’s Cabinet Member for Health, Care and Wellbeing, said it was important that people continue to do everything they can to keep cases low in Staffordshire.
Johnny said: “The spike in cases of the Indian variant is a timely reminder that Covid is still with us. It shows too how important it is for people to get themselves tested regularly and take up the vaccine when they are offered.
“Regular testing allows us to detect cases, even those showing no symptoms, and isolate any potential contacts to prevent spread of the infection. Being vaccinated means people are better protected against the virus, and I would urge all those who are eligible to book their vaccinations now.”
Details of how people can get tested in the county are available atwww.staffordshire.gov.uk/testing.