Health chiefs still wait for results on Indian variant Covid swabs following Towcester school outbreak

Officials confirm 'very few' positives from 1,900 tests in community

By Kevin Nicholls
Tuesday, 25th May 2021, 3:46 pm
Updated Tuesday, 25th May 2021, 3:48 pm

Health chiefs are still waiting for an official all-clear following an outbreak of Indian strain Covid-19 cases at a Towcester primary school.

Last week's testing blitz among the Nicholas Hawksmoor School community produced "very few" positive tests.

Further examination of those positive swabs is still going on to see if any are the highly-transmissable B.1.617.2 variant of concern.

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Officials are waiting on results from a few positive swabs in Towcester to see if they are the highly-transmissable Indian variant

But officials are confident the risk of a much bigger outbreak has now been contained following identification of six cases cases of the variant two weeks ago.

Further surge testing would have taken place if more cases had been found.

Public Health Northamptonshire director Lucy Wightman revealed just 0.23 percent of around 1,900 tests had been confirmed positive by testing labs resulting in a "very few" people having to self-isolate for ten days.

These PCR tests have been sent for sequencing although results for these have not yet been returned.

Nicholas Hawksmoor School

Mrs Wightman said: “This could have been a very different outcome so I’d like to extend my thanks to all of those involved.

“There is no doubt in my mind that we couldn’t have carried out this operation so successfully without the support and collaboration of many agencies including West Northamptonshire Council, PHE, NHS test and Trace, and Northamptonshire Emergency Response Volunteers.

“Also vital was the full co-operation from the school head teacher and deputy head, and of course the pupils, parents and families.

“The fact that testing in the wider school community resulted in only a handful of further positive cases has only been possible because of the swift action of the school during the initial outbreak.

"The school’s reporting of cases to the Northamptonshire Covid Education Cell gave the local authority and NHS staff awareness of the developing outbreak and enabled them to support from the outset.

“Irrespective of the variant, swift action by a setting, in this case a Primary School, and excellent compliance of those asked to isolate, inhibits transmission and that has been wonderfully illustrated in this example.

“Such low numbers also point to excellent isolation compliance by those early cases and their contacts.

"Strict isolation by those asked to do so inhibits transmission, and the school has been really supportive in promoting and supporting adherence to isolation. As has the school community, as the figures clearly show.