People in Nottingham are being urged to ‘stay safe’ as the city moves towards Step Three of the Covid-19 roadmap after cases of a coronavirus ‘Variant of Concern’ have been confirmed in the city.
The Variant of Concern – known as VOC-21APR-02 – has been identified by Public Health England. Cases have been found across the country. Not all cases are related to travel and some are thought to have been picked up via community transmission.
The announcement yesterday (10 May) of the move to Step Three on the roadmap out of lockdown on 17 May means people in the city should for this week continue to follow the rules on ‘hands, face, space’ – and they should also continue to do regular, twice-weekly tests for Covid-19 going forward.
David Johns, Interim Director of Public Health in Nottingham, said: “Public Health England often informs us of variants of Covid-19 and given that the latest Variant of Concern is emerging around the country, I would urge people to stay safe and follow the Step Two guidance at this time, and take regular tests as we move towards unlocking our city at Step Three.”
Most cases of the Variant of Concern are being followed-up individually by NHS Test and Trace teams.
Some of the cases have been found in shared, private accommodation in Nottingham. Nottingham City Council is working with partners from Public Health England and the NHS to carry out targeted testing in these shared buildings in the city centre and Radford over the next two weeks.
Dr Johns added: “In areas of the city where we know the variant is present we are carrying out further targeted testing. I would like to thank everyone who so far has come forward to take a test. We need everybody’s help with this. If you are asked to come forward for test, please work with our teams and get tested at the earliest opportunity.
“Targeted testing is part of the Government’s response to Coronavirus variants of concern, allowing us to quickly identify any other cases in order to monitor the potential spread of the virus. We are working closely with Public Health England and other partners to ensure this happens quickly and smoothly.”
Targeted testing is taking place in larger accommodation blocks where cases have been found and residents have shared, indoor access spaces as these pose a higher risk for transmission. People in the relevant buildings are being informed directly.
Dr Susan Hopkins, Covid-19 Strategic Response Director at Public Health England, said: “The way to limit the spread of all variants is the same and although we are all enjoying slightly more freedom, the virus is still with us. Keep your distance, wash your hands regularly and thoroughly, cover your nose and mouth when inside and keep buildings well ventilated and meet people from other households outside. If you are told to get a test, if you have any symptoms at all or have been in contact with someone who has tested positive, please make sure you get tested too.
“We are monitoring all of these variants extremely closely and have taken the decision to classify this as a Variant of Concern because the indications are that this VOC-21APR-02 is a more transmissible variant.”
People are urged to take twice-weekly testing, even if they don’t have symptoms.
There are many quick and easy ways to access a free rapid Covid-19 test when you don’t have symptoms such as from a local community site, collecting one at your local pharmacy or ordering online.
As the range of options increases, many of our community testing sites have moved to mobile units. This gives us greater flexibility to target different areas across the city.
For all the ways you can access a Covid-19 test when you don’t have symptoms please visit www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/asymptomatictesting