Staffordshire County Council has today confirmed the news and say people known to have been in contact with an employee at an unnamed Tamworth business identified as having the South African Covid variant are to be offered testing.
Staffordshire County Council, Public Health England and Tamworth Borough Council have worked together to organise testing for contacts, believed to be around 50 people largely in the Tamworth borough, and a small number in the Lichfield district.
The close contacts will be contacted and offered a home test on Friday, with Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service and Tamworth Borough Council colleagues delivering and collecting the kits.
The precautionary measure will ensure all contacts of the employee are offered a home test, which if positive will then undergo genetic sequencing for the variant.
All contacts have been identified and are being contacted individually. There is no need for anyone else to take further action other than following the national rules and taking a regular community test if they have essential reasons to leave home.
Anyone with symptoms should book a test online at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus.
Councillor Jeremy Oates, Tamworth’s Covid-19 lead, told Birmingham Live: “It is scary and we should never be complacent. This variant discovery reminds us that despite our frustration we’ve still got to work together to cope with this virus.
“Whilst the variant is a concern I would like to reassure people following this news.
“This does not mean that we have any evidence of an outbreak. Those who may be at direct risk will be tested.
“My advice remains the same: if you’re asymptomatic book a test online or order a home test, if you’re non symptomatic and have to leave your house for any reason book yourself a community test.
“We need to look after ourselves and abide by the guidance but if you can go that extra step then do so. Ask yourself if you really need to go to the supermarket as often as you do or can you do less but larger shop or get an online delivery.”
Dr Richard Harling, Staffordshire County Council’s Director of Health and Care, said: “We are aware that someone working in Tamworth has tested positive for the South African variant.
“While the risk of community transmission is very small, we want to proactively test anyone who may have been in close contact with this person so we can help identify if there are any other cases and help break the chain of infection.”
Although there is no evidence to suggest the South African variant is any more serious or infectious than any of the other variants currently circulating in the UK, public health partners are trying to chart the spread of this variant.
Contacts should ONLY use the home testing kit, rather than visiting a local testing site or ordering a test online, as the council need to have the specific logging details provided for reasons of surveillance.