Indian Covid variant found in Suffolk traced to Bolton

Needham Market coronavirus testing site, Suffolk

A total of five cases of the Indian variant have been found in Suffolk with Needham Market area residents being encouraged to get tested. - Credit: Archant

Cases of the Indian variant of coronavirus found in Needham Market have been traced to Bolton, the county council has confirmed. 

The variant first identified in India, known as B.1.617.2, is believed to have been brought to Suffolk from an original case in the Greater Manchester town. 

However, a Suffolk County Council spokeswoman stressed they cannot be "100% sure". 

She added: "This is detected through the track and trace team as they map contacts of each case."

It follows a number of Covid cases being detected at Wattisham Flying Station, the nearby army base. 

On Friday, a British Army spokesperson said: “We can confirm that we have had a number of personnel based at Wattisham Flying Station test positive for coronavirus. In accordance with Government guidelines they are self-isolating and contact tracing procedures have been followed.

"All military activity is guided by public health protocols on social distancing, hygiene and the use of PPE.”

There are currently five Indian variant coronavirus cases in Suffolk, with no new update on cases identified since Friday when four new cases of the Indian variant were confirmed - three in Needham Market and one in Newmarket.

A previous case had been identified in Mildenhall.

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When asked if there were any more Indian variant cases identified during the increased testing in Needham Market over the weekend, Suffolk County Council explained that due to the time it takes to carry out gene sequencing, it could take up to 10 days before any more cases are identified.

Ongoing asymptomatic testing is being carried out in the Needham Market area with 400 PCR tests completed today and 1,300 tests conducted over the weekend.  

The second lot of mobile testing will finish today, the county council has confirmed.

"Just one mobile testing unit will run from Tuesday through to Saturday," the spokeswoman added.

Stuart Keeble, Suffolk's director of public health, said on Sunday appointments will no longer need to be booked at the Needham Market testing unit. 

He added: "If you are local to, or work in Needham Market, please visit the site this week for your PCR test and help us to understand if the virus is spreading."

The two mobile testing units have been set up in the Mid Suffolk District Council building car park in the High Street and are open from 9am to 6pm with access via Hurstlea Road. 

For more on Covid testing in Suffolk please see here.

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