New case of South African Covid-19 variant identified in West Midlands

16 March 2021, 19:22

Sandwell Council said contact tracing had identified the patient's contacts, who have been asked to self-isolate.
Sandwell Council said contact tracing had identified the patient's contacts, who have been asked to self-isolate. . Picture: PA

By Harriet Whitehead

People in the West Midlands are being urged to get tested for Covid-19 after a case of the South African variant of Covid-19 was identified in Sandwell.

The Department of Health and Social Care said part of the DY4 postcode, including the Burnt Tree area, would have additional testing made available "to control and suppress the potential spread" of the variant.

Sandwell Council said contact tracing had identified the patient's contacts, who have been asked to self-isolate.

Genomic sequencing is also being deployed to a targeted area, which takes in parts of both Tipton and Oldbury.

People living within the targeted area are strongly encouraged to take a Covid-19 test when offered, whether they are showing symptoms or not.

The department said any positive cases will be sequenced for genomic data to help increase understanding of Covid-19 variants within the areas.

A mobile testing unit is being set up at the PureGym car park in Dudley Port, offering its service to people without symptoms.

The mobile testing unit will open from 10am-3pm on Wednesday for walk-in tests and booked drive-in tests.

Deputy council leader Maria Crompton said: "I know this news will cause concern.

"Our priority is to keep our communities and especially our most vulnerable residents safe.

"We are making additional, targeted testing easily available in these specific areas, so we can monitor and control this new variant.

"We are strongly encouraging people to get tested even if they don't have symptoms."

Official data up to March 14 shows that of the 26,063,501 jabs of all types given in the UK so far, 24,453,221 were first doses - a rise of 257,010 on the previous day .Some 1,610,280 were second doses, an increase of 25,371.

READ MORE: Surge testing in two new areas after South African Covid variant detected

Dr Lisa McNally, Sandwell's director of public health, added: "The more cases of the variant we can find, the better chance we have of suppressing it.

"If you are asked to be tested please, please do take up the offer, it's quick easy and painless and you'll be saving lives by doing so.

"Please help to keep your community safe by getting tested so we can protect you and your loved ones."

READ MORE: European Medicines Agency: 'No indication' AstraZeneca jab causes blood clots

This news comes as the European Medicines Agency has said there is "no indication" the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab causes blood clots, after 10 European nations suspended use of it over health fears.

A full investigation is being done into the safety of the Covid-19 vaccine, over fears it increases the chance of a blood clot.

Germany, France, Spain and Italy paused injections of the vaccine amid concerns about blood clots in people who have had the shot, although the European Union's medical regulator insisted its benefits outweighed the risk of side effects.

The Netherlands, the Republic of Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Bulgaria, Iceland and Thailand have already temporarily suspended their use of the jab.

Public Health England has also said two more cases of the Brazilian variant of Covid-19, and two cases of a new variant reported by the Philippines, have been identified in England.

It has been designated a variant under investigation.