Pupils and parents of Henry Whipple Primary in Bestwood are being asked to take a Covid-19 test after Public Health England identified cases of coronavirus related to a ‘variant of concern’.

Targeted testing will take place at the school as a precautionary measure from Monday 17 May to Friday 21 May. It follows testing for the same variant – known as VOC-21APR-02 – in large, shared accommodation blocks in the city centre this week.

David Johns, Interim Director of Public Health in Nottingham, said:

“We have been notified by Public Health England about a coronavirus variant of concern connected with Henry Whipple Primary School.

“We are working with the school to ensure testing can take place with pupils, parents and staff.

“I should stress that no one should be alarmed about this. Variants of concern are being identified around the country and are followed by routine targeted testing to help us to monitor their spread. There is no evidence that this variant poses any more risk to health.

“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. It helps us to work proactively to try to get ahead of the spread of the variant. We are working closely with Public Health England and other partners to ensure this happens quickly and smoothly.

“I would urge parents of pupils at Henry Whipple to work with the council and with the school to support our testing programme.

“I would also urge people to continue to follow the guidance on ‘Hands, Face, Space’, have regular testing for Covid-19 and to have the vaccination when it is your turn to do so. This is especially important as we move to Step Three of the Roadmap.”

Dr Susan Hopkins, Covid-19 Strategic Response Director at Public Health England, said:

“Cases of this variant are rising in the community and we are continuously monitoring its spread and severity to ensure we take rapid public health action. We need to act collectively and responsibly to ensure that variants do not impact on the progress we have all made to drive down levels of Covid-19 and the increased freedom that brings. That means you should pay attention to and act on the local health advice in your area. Testing and isolating when required not only limits spread, it helps us to better understand how the variant behaves in the community which is vital to taking effective and proportionate action moving forward.

“If you’re asked to take a test please do. The way to limit the spread of all variants is the same. Keep your distance, wash your hands regularly and thoroughly, cover your nose and mouth when inside, keep buildings well ventilated and meet people from other households outside.”

Cari Burgess, Head Teacher at Henry Whipple Primary, said:

“Keeping our children safe in every way is always our highest priority at HWP. Our community has taken extensive actions to keep our children safe within the Covid-19 pandemic and we thank them for their valued support in this.

“Nottingham City Council and Public Health England has informed us that coronavirus (COVID-19) cases dating back to earlier in April have been identified that are related to a variant of concern first identified in India. However due to our combined efforts as a school and community further spreading within the school at that time has been prevented.

“The risk of ongoing transmission in the school is believed to be low, but, as a precautionary measure, PHE and the City Council would like to identify if there has been any asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 by asking our school community (parents, staff and pupils) to take a PCR Covid-19 test.

“We should all welcome this opportunity to engage with testing to keep our community safe both within and outside of our school. All it takes is a few minutes to support the further spreading of Covid-19 and we strongly encourage all parents and children to take part to prevent further spread.”