A top doctor has urged people not to panic but to take no risks as the South African Covid variant continues to spread in Britain.
Birmingham’s director of public health, Dr. Justin Varney said it is important any cases are quickly isolated but said it won’t be the only wave of the mutated strain.
The Government has set up Operation Eagle, part of the national track and trace program, in a bid to stamp out new “variants of concern” – with people in affected postcodes advised to get tested.
That includes Frankley Great Park and parts of Northfield, where two cases have been identified, and are overseen by Dr Varney’s department, reports BirminghamLive.
“This will happen again,” said the doctor during a video interview.
“As we go through the next year we will have this saturation testing whenever we find these variants cropping up.
“It is really important we see if these cases are isolated – but there is no cause for panic. We simply ask people to not take risks. We are being over-cautious to an extent.
“Please follow the rules. It does not mean lock yourself away, it is not about scaring people, it is about being careful.”
Dr Varney went on to say the South African variant is among the mutations that are either “most infectious, more deadly or more resistant to the vaccines”.
Other identified variants include those in Brazil, Japan and the UK – the so-called Kent variant.
Several cases of the South Africa variant have been identified linked to travel, with those affected picking it up abroad but now in quarantine.
Dr. Varney said the concern comes in when patients are identified who have not contracted it abroad, but from within their community.
Downing Street launched door-to-door testing in parts of the country after 11 such cases were identified earlier this week.
Different variants are recognized through genotyping positive tests, looking at the genetic history of the sample, which can take four weeks to complete.
Children are not being tested because it is deemed unnecessary, with the likelihood that any identified positive cases in adults in a household will likely mean the children are infected anyway, he added.
The tests must be done at designated sites or using test kits provided as every swab will be genotyped and the result returned in 48 hours as part of the mass testing process.
Schools should also continue as normal, with the children of key workers and vulnerable pupils in school.
If a person tests positive, has any symptoms or is contact traced following close contact with someone who tests positive, they should self-isolate immediately.