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National lockdown: Stay at home

About the South African variant

What is the South African variant of COVID-19?

As viruses spread in the community, they can mutate. This particular variant of COVID-19 was first observed in South Africa, and contains a mutation that makes it easy to spread. Public health scientists are still studying this variant and will report on their findings soon.

Is it more deadly than other variants?

There is no evidence to suggest this variant of the virus causes more serious illnesses for the vast majority of people who are infected. The main issue with this variant is how easily it spreads.

Do COVID-19 vaccines work against the South African variant?

Studies are still ongoing. Initial findings suggest that some COVID-19 vaccines may not work quite as well against this variant. That is why it is important that we map how far it has spread.

COVID-19 vaccines are effective against the main variants of the virus circulating currently so it remains hugely important that we vaccinate as many people as possible as quickly as we can. COVID-19 vaccines are being offered in priority order, to those most at risk from infection first. If you are offered the opportunity to get vaccinated please take it.

Work is also ongoing to refine COVID-19 vaccines so they can offer protection against new variants.

When was this variant first identified in Staffordshire? 

It takes a few weeks between a positive test and a random sample being fully sequenced in a lab. The first case of South African variant in Staffordshire was confirmed week commencing 08 February 2021.

Where are you testing for the South African variant?

We are currently testing for the South African variant in:

Why do we need to get tested?

Testing is the best way we can discover COVID-19 cases, isolate them, and stop any further spread. This is equally true for the South African variant. Therefore, it is incredibly important that if we contact you to ask you to take a test, you do so. 

How are additional cases being identified?

For anyone who tests positive for COVID-19, contact tracing and testing of close contacts of any confirmed cases will take place.  

Find out more on the types and uses of coronavirus (COVID-19) testing.  

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