The first case of the South African variant of Covid-19, with no links to international travel, has been identified in Staffordshire.
The resident of Stafford borough tested positive in January and the South African variant was picked up as part of routine laboratory screening. They have recovered and contact tracing has established that the resident had no known contact with people in their local area whilst infectious and no links to other areas where cases have been identified.
Staffordshire County Council is already encouraging everyone who needs to be out and about during lockdown to get tested, but is now advising everyone in the Stafford borough area specifically to get tested in the next four weeks. This will help to check if there are more cases in the borough and help stop the spread of the variant.
Dr Nic Coetzee, consultant in communicable disease control for Public Health England Midlands, said:
“With new variants emerging all the time and spreading more rapidly, it is not surprising that a case of the South African variant has been found in Staffordshire.
“While there is currently no evidence of the South African variant circulating in the community, we want to be proactive in testing people and stopping the spreading of infection. This is a timely reminder to everyone to continue to follow the rules, Stay at Home, and if they do have essential reasons to leave their home then get tested regularly.”
Community testing for people without symptoms is available seven days a week in every borough and district, and the county council plans to offer additional testing capacity and screening for the variant in Stafford borough.
Dr Richard Harling, the county council’s director of health and care said:
“In Staffordshire we are asking everyone who has a legitimate reason for being out and about during lockdown, to make sure they get tested at least weekly at one of our community testing centres for people without symptoms.
“We know that one in three people who have the virus show no symptoms, and this will help us identify more people with Covid who should be isolating, which will help stop the spread of infection.
“In the case of residents who test positive in Stafford borough, we will also check to see whether they have the South African variant.”
Community Testing Centres are open seven days a week for people without symptoms. Walk-in testing without appointment is available on the day or people can book in advance at Welcome to the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Community Test Sites Appointment System (zipporah.co.uk)
People with symptoms should book a test at the National Beaconside Regional Drive-Through Centre if available at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus