4 new cases of ‘variant of concern’ identified in Suffolk, testing being rolled out in Needham Market

Four new cases of the variant first identified in India (B.1.617.2) have been identified in Suffolk, bringing the total to five known cases.

Three of these new cases have been linked to the Needham Market area, and so local residents, who are not showing any COVID-19 symptoms are being encouraged to take a PCR test to help monitor any potential spread of the disease and help protect each other.

A mobile testing unit will be set up in Needham Market from 9am on Saturday 22 May:

Mid Suffolk District Council building car park at 131 High Street, Needham Market, IP6 8DL (access via Hurstlea Road)
Opening hours: Saturday 22 May to Saturday 29 May, 9am to 6pm
Appointments must be booked in advance through the Gov.uk website or by calling 119
For anyone who is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, they should get their PCR test in the usual way at local testing centres or by ordering a home testing kit (details here).

Stuart Keeble, Director of Public Health Suffolk, said:

“We are taking this swift action, as a very small number of cases of this variant of concern have been found in the Needham Market area. There is no need for people to be worried, but we do need to act straight away and prevent the infection spreading further into the community.

“I am asking for residents and workers in Needham Market, to take a PCR test for COVID-19 as soon as possible. Otherwise please keep following the national guidance, washing your hands regularly, wearing a face mask, social distancing as necessary, opening up windows when people from other households visit and take up your vaccination when offered it.”

“By getting your test, you will be helping us to understand more about potential spread of this this variant of the virus, and limit any potential spread to protect yourself and your loved ones.”

There have been 16 cases in Needham Market and surrounding area in the last two weeks, with 71 cases in the whole of Suffolk. This is at a rate of 143.6 cases per 100,000 population, which is double the case rate of any other Middle layer Super Output Areas (MOSA) in Suffolk. Across Suffolk, this figure is 13.8 per 100,000, and 16.5 per 100,000 for the East of England.

Needham Market and the surrounding area is being targeted for testing, following early contact and tracing efforts by Public Health Suffolk responding to a recent COVID-19 outbreak.

A British Army spokesperson said:

“We can confirm that we have had a number of personnel based at Wattisham Flying Station test positive for coronavirus. In accordance with Government guidelines they are self-isolating and contact tracing procedures have been followed. All military activity is guided by public health protocols on social distancing, hygiene and the use of PPE.”

Stuart Keeble added:

“I’d like to thank the staff at Wattisham Flying Station for their incredibly diligent work to clamp down on their cases so quickly, and to those personnel and their families who were asked to self-isolate, for doing so.”

The remaining new case of the variant first identified in India (B.1.617.2), has been identified in the Newmarket area. At the moment this is being treated as a solitary case, but Public Health Suffolk will continue to monitor the situation closely.