Testing for Covid-19 variant of concern in second city school

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Staff, pupils and family members at Ellis Guilford school, in Basford, 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 24 May to Friday 28 May. It follows testing for the same variant – known as VOC-21APR-02 – that has recently taken place in other parts of the city, including Henry Whipple School, in Bestwood, this week.

Mobile units will be on site at Ellis Guilford, while home-testing kits will also be made available for other family members.

The council is again urging all eligible people in Nottingham to book a vaccination when their turn comes.

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

“We’re working with Ellis Guilford School to carry out testing next week after we were notified by Public Health England about a coronavirus variant of concern connected with the site.

“It will involve pupils, staff and their families, and follows a similar round of testing this week at another city school, which has had really positive engagement from parents.

“I understand that people may be concerned about the presence of this variant in their community or more widely in Nottingham, but I want to reiterate that there is no cause for alarm.

“It’s also a timely opportunity to encourage everyone to take up the offer of the Covid vaccine when it’s their turn. I can’t emphasis enough the importance of getting vaccinated – this protects you, your family, friends, neighbours and colleagues and is the very best thing you can do right now.

“Variants of concern are being identified around the country and routine targeted testing helps us to monitor their spread. There is no evidence that this variant poses any greater risk to health, but it is important for us and Public Health England to understand more about its movement.

“Targeted testing is part of the Government’s response to Coronavirus variants of concern. The aim is to quickly find any additional cases so people can self-isolate, and therefore reduce further spread.

“I would ask parents of pupils at Ellis Guilford to work with the council and the school to support our testing programme.

“I’d also urge people to continue to follow the guidance on ‘Hands, Face, Space’, have regular testing for Covid-19 and, of course, book a vaccination when it is your turn to do so.”

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

“We are seeing rising numbers of this variant across the country and we continue to monitor them closely to understand more about the way it is moving through communities.

“It’s understandable that people are feeling fatigued after more than a year living with the pandemic on a daily basis, but it’s so important that everyone continues to do their bit by working together and acting responsibly. We can then halt further spread, drive down levels of Covid-19 and begin enjoying more social freedoms.

“This involves remaining vigilant about the situation in your local area and acting accordingly on the current health advice. Testing enables people to isolate if they return a positive result, helping to limit further spread, but the data also helps us to better understand the way the variant behaves.

“I’d urge everyone to come forward straight away for a test if they’re asked to. Meanwhile, the way to limit the spread of all variants remains 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 where possible.”

Chris Keen, Principal at Ellis Guilford School, said:

“The safety of all our pupils and their families remains our number-one priority during this time. While the risk of on-going transmissions remains low, we need to respect and understand the guidance from Public Health England and Nottingham City Council in supporting a PCR Covid test for all pupils, parents, carers and staff.

“If this means our school community is safe, we welcome the opportunity of engaging with the tests.”

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