Health chief hails Northamptonshire school's quick response to Indian variant Covid outbreak

Six cases of variants identified at a Towcester primary school

Friday, 14th May 2021, 8:35 pm
Updated Monday, 17th May 2021, 10:37 am
Nicholas Hawksmoore Primary School in Towcester.

Northamptonshire's health chief has praised leaders at a Towcester primary school where six cases of Covid-19 Indian variants have been found.

Testing is under way at Nicholas Hawksmoor school to check for more cases of the B.1.617.1 and B.1.617.2 strains.

The NHS Test and Trace system is also being used to identify others who may have come into contact through out-of-school activities.

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Director of Public Health Lucy Wightman said the school's quick response has helped identify close contacts and reduce the risk of transmission.

Mrs Wightman said: “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 under way with trained staff providing support to the school community.

“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 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 which you need to book through the Test and Trace app, online at nhs.uk/coronavirus, or by calling 119."

The variant cases, which are not linked directly to international travel, were identified after a process known as sequencing was carried out on tests taken by individuals who had tested positive for Covid-19.

Plans were immediately put in place by Public Health Northamptonshire to test in the school community with pupils, parents and household contacts, plus childcare bubbles being asked to take part.

Any positive cases identified by PCR tests will then be sequenced for variants of concern.

Mrs Wightman added: "We will begin to know more early next week as to whether surge testing of the local community will be required.

"This will obviously be a concern to Towcester residents, although there is no evidence the variants cause more severe illness or increased risk of mortality."

Prime Miniter Boris Johnson told a media briefing on Friday that the Indian variants are more transmissable and announced that remaining second doses for over-50s will be accelerated so they come eight weeks after the first instead of 12 weeks.

The PM told the nation there is no evidence of increased cases translating to “unmanageable pressures” on the NHS and Monday's planned step three of the roadmap will proceed as planned.