22 cases of ‘Indian’ variant of concern now found in Suffolk including some in West Suffolk

The number of COVID-19 cases in Suffolk of the variant of concern (B.1.617.2), which first originated in India, now stands at 22. This rise of cases is in line with the rest of the country.

A total of 14 of the overall 22 cases have been found in residents in Mid Suffolk.

Most of the Mid Suffolk cases are linked to a known outbreak in the Needham Market area where a programme of PCR testing of residents is ongoing.

Of the remaining eight cases in the county, two are residents of Ipswich, and five are in West Suffolk.

The location of one case remains under investigation but it is understood that it may have been designated as a Suffolk case in error.

Stuart Keeble, Director of Public Health for Suffolk, said enhanced contact tracing was undertaken routinely with all known cases with a variant of concern to understand the source of any infection.

Targeted testing of close contacts is also being undertaken to identify further cases and contacts.

Links between cases would also be investigated to inform local outbreak control measures such as the ongoing enhanced testing in Needham Market, which concludes on Saturday, May 29.

“We should neither be surprised or unduly alarmed at the increase in figures,” he said.

“This is being seen at a national level and this variant is likely to become increasingly common as we move forward.

“It must be remembered that while the variant potentially spreads more quickly, and somewhat reduces the impact of the first dose, recent data shows vaccines are still highly effective at protecting against severe disease following a second dose.”

Mr Keeble said people should continue to wear a mask, wash their hands, maintain distancing, get vaccinated as soon as it becomes available and ensure good ventilation when meeting others indoors.

They are also urged to help curb virus spread by testing twice a week with rapid lateral flow devices, and if they test positive to book a confirmatory PCR test via 119 or the Gov.UK website.

Anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should get their PCR test in the usual way at local testing centres or by ordering a home testing kit here.

People without symptoms can find details on how to get rapid flow home testing kits at https://www.suffolk.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19/getting-a-test/covid-19-asymptomatic-testing/.

Information about testing in Suffolk and how to get advice on services, schools, business, and wellbeing can be found at the Suffolk County Council website.