Testing of pupils and staff after Covid-19 Indian variant cases identified at Sandwell school
Published 19th May 2021
Two individuals attending Ryders Green Primary School in Claypit Lane, West Bromwich, have tested positive for the Covid-19 variant B.1.617.2
Sandwell Council and Public Health England (PHE) have been notified that two individuals attending Ryders Green Primary School in Claypit Lane, West Bromwich, have tested positive for the Covid-19 variant B.1.617.2 (from India).
The individuals have no recent foreign travel history.
The Public Health Team at Sandwell Council is working with PHE to test 120 children in two year groups and approximately 10 staff.
Sandwell Council was informed by PHE that there had been cases of the new Indian variant of Covid-19 linked to the school. These cases tested positive several weeks ago and all appropriate infection prevention and control measures were taken at the time. However, as part of the increased surveillance for this new variant, PHE, Sandwell Public Health and the school have agreed to test all pupils and staff in two year groups.
Parents, guardians, students and staff members have been written to, advising them of the situation and if they need to be tested.
The results of the tests will be reviewed, and further actions will be taken if required. If members of the local community do not have symptoms, there is no action for them to take at this time.
Public health professionals are charting the spread of this variant within our communities. In Sandwell, we have enhanced monitoring in place that enables us to identify cases early, as well as a rapid response in relation to any extra testing or outbreak control that is required.
The Indian variant has already hit other areas very hard in the North West of England and those communities are very similar to Sandwell in relation to social factors, economic deprivation and density of population. There is therefore no reason to think that we will not face the same challenges in the near future.
It’s absolutely vital that we all take up our vaccination, for our own safety, and for the safety of those around us. It’s also crucial that we don’t drop our guard or be fooled into thinking the pandemic is over. Actions such as keeping our distance from others and wearing face coverings are as crucial as ever.
If local people do have symptoms, they should access testing through https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or by calling 119.
People MUST self-isolate if:
● they have any symptoms of COVID-19 (a high temperature, a new continuous cough, or a loss or change to your sense of smell and/or taste)
● they test positive for the COVID-19 virus even if they have isolated before
● they live with someone who has symptoms, is waiting for a test result or has tested positive.
Sandwell’s Director of Public Health Dr Lisa McNally said: “In recent months, Sandwell’s local community has achieved an amazing reduction in COVID-19 cases. One of the fastest declines in infection rates in the country has been achieved by following government guidelines and by testing. We have established an enhanced system of infection surveillance so that we can detect as many of these cases as possible. We also have an extended contact tracing response in place that works to establish routes of transmission when a new variant case is identified.
“However, we cannot be complacent, we all need to do everything we can to stop the spread of Covid-19 and to keep ourselves and others safe.
“While we do have a small number of positive Indian variant cases in Sandwell, there is no evidence to suggest this variant causes more severe illness. But it appears to be more easily spread than other variants currently circulating in the UK, therefore, we want to find out whether it has spread in our communities.
“Our work with the pupils, families and staff attending Ryders Green School will help us to identify and contain the variant. Please remember that the vaccine is effective against it. So having your vaccination when you are offered it is the best way to keep you and your families safe. Please get your jab as soon as you can and, if you have been offered the vaccination and haven’t had it yet – please do get your appointment booked. It’s also really important that you make sure you take up your second dose as soon as that is offered as well.”
Councillor Maria Crompton, Deputy Leader of Sandwell Council, said: “People who live, study and work in Sandwell are reminded that coronavirus restrictions remain in place. You should take care when meeting anyone outside your household or support bubble. You should try to avoid travelling in and out of affected areas unless it is essential, for example for work, if you cannot do so from home. This will keep yourself and others safe.
“We want our communities to feel safe and protected, in their homes, in their schools and in their neighbourhoods. Our work with PHE will help us achieve this ambition.”