COVID surge testing has been rolled out in Nuneaton, to nip the spread of the Indian variant in the bud.

A number of cases have been confirmed to be the B.1.617.2 variant, with each person told to isolate.

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It is not clear if the infections were linked to travel or community cases.

NHS Test and Trace has brought in extra testing and genomic sequencing in the Wembrook and Abbey wards.

A Department of Health statement said: "Everyone who lives or works in the targeted areas, including all children over the age of 2, are strongly encouraged to take a Covid-19 PCR test, whether they are showing symptoms or not.

"Enhanced contact tracing will be used for individuals testing positive with a variant of concern (VOC).

"This is where contact tracers look back over an extended period to determine the route of transmission.

"By using PCR testing, positive results can be sent for genomic sequencing at specialist laboratories, helping us to identify VOC cases and their spread."

People in this area should carry on using twice-weekly rapid testing alongside the PCR test as part of surge testing.

KEEP ON TESTING

It comes after surge testing was rolled out at a Manchester college campus.

Around 17 students in one class tested positive for Covid – with the results sent to confirm if they match the Indian variant.

Experts are monitoring the evolving situation and rates of variants closely, with the Department of Health saying the government "will not hesitate to take additional action as necessary".

Indian variant cases are continuing to climb in the UK. On Friday the latest data showed 1,313 cases, and as of yesterday there were 2,323.

Covid-hit Bolton and Blackburn with Darwen have seen 483 cases of the Indian variant and 27 people hospitalised, and Bedford is now on the watchlist as infections rise.

Health Secretary Mr Hancock said: "The next biggest case of concern is Bedford where we are surging testing – and I would urge everybody in Bedford to exercise caution and engage in testing where it is available."

He said there are 86 local authorities with five or more cases of the mutation, but did not specify where they were.

Local outbreaks have also been seen in Sefton, Nottingham and Leicester.

If you have symptoms you should book a free test to be tested at a site or have a kit sent to your home.

If you have no symptoms, visit the Warwickshire Council website for more information.

Appointments for a second Covid-19 vaccine dose will be brought forward from 12 to 8 weeks for those in the top nine priority groups who have yet to get their second dose.

This is to ensure people across the UK have the strongest possible protection from the virus at an earlier opportunity.

The move follows updated advice from the independent experts at the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which has considered the latest available evidence and has recommended reducing the dosing interval.

 

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