Targeted testing in Essex as 7 households test positive for Indian variant

Mobile coronavirus testing centres have been put in place across the county. Picture: SARAH LUCY BRO

Residents of Chelmsford are being urged to take Covid tests after an outbreak of the Indian variant - Credit: Archant

The Indian Covid variant has been detected in seven households in Chelmsford, with public health experts urging residents to get tested to keep the strain in check. 

The council has said there is no obvious link between the cases and foreign travel and it is therefore likely that the variant is present in the community. 

Following the emergence of the B16172 variant, Essex County Council is now working closely with Public Health England, other council partners and Essex and Southend Contact Tracing Service to help prevent the spread of the disease. 

Targeted PCR testing will take place at locations where individuals from these households are known to have visited. 

There has also been calls by regional and local public health experts for residents living in the Chelmsford City Council area to do a Lateral Flow Test as soon as possible. 

A person taking a lateral flow test

Residents are being encouraged to take Lateral Flow Tests to prevent the spread of the variant - Credit: PA

Home testing kits are available from local libraries, pharmacies or can be ordered online. The self-testing kits are easy to use and deliver results in around 30 minutes. 

Testing will help identify anyone who may have been infected but is not displaying any symptoms, and anyone who tests positive will need to self-isolate to prevent any further spread. 

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If anyone tests positive for coronavirus they must then also take a PCR test to confirm. If the PCR test is positive, the result will then be used by Public Health England to test for the Indian variant. 

Director of Public Health at Essex County Council, Dr Mike Gogarty said: “Though the light is at the end of the tunnel with the continued roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine, the emergence of this new variant proves we can’t let down our guard.

"We need anyone not showing Covid-19 symptoms, particularly those in Chelmsford, to play their part and take a test.

“I would ask that all residents across the county to continue to test regularly.

"Regular self-testing, twice a week, with lateral flow tests can reduce the spread of infection and stop people unknowingly passing on the virus to others.”

Leader of Chelmsford City Council, Stephen Robinson said: “I understand that the news of a variant of concern emerging in Chelmsford is worrying.

"I have confidence in the recommendations from our Public Health team to address this issue.

“So if you live in the Chelmsford City Council area, please do pick up or order a Lateral Flow test and take it right away."

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