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First Covid-19 variant for investigation identified in Leicester

Published on Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Virus germ

LEICESTER’S Director of Public Health Professor Ivan Browne says that Leicester has received its first notifications from Public Health England (PHE) of a COVID-19 variant in the city that requires investigation and follow up.

Professor Browne said he’d been notified of three cases of the variant known as VUI-21-APR-01 (first identified in India).  All of the cases were linked to travel from India, prior to it being placed on the Government’s red list last Friday (23 April).

The variant was identified after a process known as sequencing was carried out on the tests taken by returning travellers who had tested positive for COVID-19, and on follow-up tests issued to their contacts.

As a precautionary measure, further testing will be carried out at a city school. Surge testing or mass testing of communities is not currently required as the cases are all linked to travel.

Professor Browne said: “Public Health England notified us on Sunday that it had identified three cases of the variant known as VUI-21-APR in Leicester. PHE had already been in touch with the people concerned and some of their contacts.

“Since then we have been working closely with PHE to ensure that all close contacts of those affected are identified and advised to self-isolate for 10 days. Targeted testing is also taking place in a city school as a precautionary measure.

“There is currently no evidence that this variant causes more severe illness or increased risk of mortality. Our advice to everyone remains the same. The best way to stop the spread of the virus is to keep washing or sanitising your hands, wear a face covering in public places, stay apart from those you don’t live with, and abide by the restrictions in place.

“Regardless of whether you have travelled recently, everyone is encouraged to take up the offer of twice weekly testing so that we can stop the spread of the virus.”

People without symptoms can drop in to any of the council’s six rapid test centres in the city to get a test. No appointment is needed and results come back in less than an hour. Test kits can also be collected from the test centres and some pharmacies to do at home.

Anyone with symptoms should book an appointment for a PCR test. More details on testing is available on the council’s website www.leicester.gov.uk/rapidtests