Two likely cases of the Brazilian variant of Covid-19 have been detected in Warwickshire.
Health bosses say the cases are in the north of the county and have been contained.
Warwickshire County Council’s Public Health team and Public Health England (PHE) in the West Midlands are working with LKQ Euro Car Parts in Dordon, North Warwickshire, following notification of two probable cases of the COVID-19 variant known as VOC-21JAN-02, first identified in Brazil, among employees who work at the site.
The individuals are self-isolating and close contacts have been identified.
PHE has advised that there is currently no evidence to suggest this variant causes more severe illness or increased risk of transmission than any other variant currently circulating in the UK.
As a variant of concern, it is subject to close monitoring, but the vaccines currently deployed have not been shown to be any less effective.
A mobile testing unit will be set up on site at the company over the weekend and all staff are being asked to take a PCR test.
This is the test people would normally take if they have COVID-19 symptoms and which also enables identification of the virus strain.
As an extra precaution staff will be asked to take daily rapid lateral flow tests (LFTs), until they have the result of their PCR test.
Anyone displaying any symptoms of COVID-19 (high temperature, continuous cough or a change to sense of taste and smell) should access a PCR test by booking online at nhs.uk/coronavirus or by ringing 119. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you must isolate immediately with your household. Advice and support are available at www.warwickshire.gov.uk
Steve Maxey, chief executive at North Warwickshire Borough Council said: “Only by acting together will we have the best chance of containing the virus. Reassuringly, North Warwickshire’s rate of infection is very low (currently just 9 cases per 100,000) however we cannot be complacent and will take reports of new variants very seriously, working with PHE colleagues to isolate those cases as quickly as possible.”
Dr Shade Agboola, Director of Public Health said: "We know that new COVID-19 variants are going to become part of our everyday life. But we also know that the more we allow the viruses to circulate, the greater the chance there is that newer more serious variants will develop.
"The VOC-21JAN-02 variant is not more transmissible than our current UK variants and we don’t think at the moment that it causes more serious disease, but it may be less well covered by our vaccines. This is why we need to get on top of it quickly. Finally, it is critically important that we all continue to follow the rules and keep our distance, wash our hands, wear face coverings and test regularly (and importantly if we have symptoms), in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses.”
Helen Robinson, Corporate Communications Director from LKQ Euro Car Parts added: "We have worked closely with PHE, local councils and other NHS and government bodies throughout the pandemic to help quickly track and isolate cases when colleagues have tested positive. The additional measures we’re taking in Dordon are precautionary but means we’re doing everything we can to help PHE to prevent the spread of this variant.
“Our teams across the UK have been working brilliantly since last March to help keep everyone in our business safe so that we can help keep Britain moving. We’ll be giving our colleagues in Dordon our full support with additional testing over the coming weeks.”
For more information on COVID-19, please visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk