Council prepared for variant spread – with plans for surge testing

Public health officials say they are ready to launch surge testing if there is a spike in Covid variant cases in the county.

Shropshire Council said it is ready to launch surge testing if there is a spread of the Indian Covid variant in the county.
Shropshire Council said it is ready to launch surge testing if there is a spread of the Indian Covid variant in the county.

Shropshire Council said it has been working with Public Health England (PHE) to prepare for a rise in variant cases amid concerns over outbreaks across the country.

There have been two Indian variant cases reported in the Shropshire Council area so far, with five in the Telford & Wrekin borough.

The Indian variant – B.1.617.2 – has though caused a significant rise in UK cases of 3,535 to 6,959.

The worst-affected areas continue to be Bolton, Bedford, and Blackburn with Darwen, which have seen 1,354, 366 and 361 confirmed cases, respectively.

PHE added, however, that there are small numbers of cases of the variant in most parts of the country.

Shropshire Council said it has been preparing its response to an increase in cases within the county, and has put in place "cross-system measures" to address a potential outbreak.

It added that it is prepared to carry out surge testing if needed.

Last week, council officers joined up with the fire service, police and NHS to carry out dedicated training exercises to map out exactly how the response to an outbreak – including what would happen with schools and businesses.

Shropshire Council’s director of public health, Rachel Robinson, said: "As a county we’ve been working very closely with our Public Health England and Department of Health and Social Care colleagues to prepare for any variants of concern.

"We have put in place strong cross-system structures to address an outbreak, including the capacity to undertake surge testing if necessary. We are also learning from other counties which have already had to respond.

"We currently have a low number of Covid-19 cases in Shropshire but this doesn’t mean we should relax and let our guard down. We know that cases of the Indian variant are increasing rapidly.

"Throughout the pandemic, we have been very active in targeting and containing the virus and this approach continues to be very important."

Councillor Dean Carroll, portfolio holder for public health added: "Shropshire residents have stepped up to play their part to stop the spread of coronavirus – but it’s not over yet.

"While the situation in Shropshire is stable at the moment, you only have to look at other parts of the UK to see how serious the Indian variant is.

"Plans are in place if we do need to respond to an outbreak, but we all must continue to play our part and keep our communities safe."

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