About COVID-19 variants in Staffordshire
As COVID-19 continues to circulate around the world, it is inevitable that the virus will mutate with the evolution of new variants. The government keeps track of these variants and, if necessary, takes action to stop the spread.
Variants are normally picked up by genetic sequencing of positive cases. When we are notified by Public Health England of a particular variant in Staffordshire, contacts of the case are traced and advised.
Variant Under Investigation (VUI) means that a particular variant has certain properties, such as how it spreads, that need to be investigated and assessed.
Variant of Concern (VOC) means that the variant has been assessed by an expert committee, and has been deemed to present a concern such as spreading more easily, causing more srious illness, and/or being resistant to vaccination.
What happens if Variants of Concern are found in Staffordshire?
The county council meets with partners including Public Health England to discuss what further action should be taken to contain the spread of infection. Actions could include precautionary testing of contacts and settings (such as workplaces or schools), right through to doorstep/surge testing of whole communities.
Variants of Concern in Staffordshire
COVID-19 rates in Staffordshire remain low.
The main VOC in the UK at the moment is a variant of the virus that originated in India. A number of cases of this VOC have been confirmed in Staffordshire. There is currently no evidence to suggest this VOC is spreading in the community.
What can I do to stop the spread?
Even if a VOC has not been identified in your area, everyone can do something to control the COVID-19 virus. Here are some simple steps that you can take.
Hygiene and social distancing
Remember Hands, Face, Space and Fresh air. The COVID-19 virus spreads when people get close together: be sensible and take precautions to protect yourself from infection.
Get a regular rapid COVID test
Get a regular rapid test for your own peace of mind and to reassure yourself that you’re not going to pass the infection to your nearest and dearest.
Regular testing is an important way to identify cases and reduce the spread of infection.
There are Community Testing Sites and pop up testing sites for people without symptoms across Tamworth. Book online or just walk in. You can also pick up packs of tests for home testing at these sites, or at your local pharmacy. Tests are quick, painless and free.
Isolate and get a test if you have symptoms
If you’ve got symptoms of COVID-19, you need to isolate at home and only leave the house to get a test. You need to book this test online.
Don't travel to variant hotspot areas
We are advising residents against travel to areas that have high levels of VOCs. Currently these areas include Bolton, Blackburn and parts of London. We are also advising people to think carefully before inviting visitors from these locations to Staffordshire.
If you have a test and need to isolate, there is financial support available. You may be entitled to a one-off payment of £500 through the Test and Trace support payment scheme.
This is to support people on low incomes or those who will lose money if they must self-isolate.
Make your application online. This must be within 28 days of the start of your self-isolation.
Get the vaccination when you’re offered it (but still follow the guidelines when you’ve had it)
The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective. It gives you the best protection against coronavirus.
The first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine should give you good protection from coronavirus. But you need to have the two doses of the vaccine to give you longer lasting protection.
There is still a chance you might get or spread coronavirus even if you have the vaccine.
This means it is important to:
- continue to follow social distancing guidance
- if you can, wear something that covers your nose and mouth in places where it's hard to stay away from other people