Surge testing plans in place for South Tyneside in preparation for any Indian covid variant spread

NHS chiefs could begin surge testing in South Tyneside if more cases of the coronavirus Indian variant are discovered.

Thursday, 27th May 2021, 6:35 pm
Surge testing taking place elsewhere in the UK

Confirmed cases of the Indian variant of Covid-19 have doubled in a week to reach almost 7,000, although hospital admissions remain flat, data shows.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told a Downing Street press conference on May 27 that up to three-quarters of new coronavirus cases were the Indian variant, but added vaccines were having an effect on keeping people out of hospital.

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And while officials in South Tyneside have stressed the need for continued caution, they have also pointed to reassuringly low infection rates and high vaccine take up in the borough.

“The thing that we remain the most aware of and vigilant to at the moment is the variants of concern,” said Tom Hall, director of public health at South Tyneside Council.

“Obviously, colleagues will be aware of the situation in North Tyneside, where there’s been a cluster of variants of concern and they’ve had to move towards additional surge testing.

“We’d already worked out a protocol for how we would stand up surge testing, but now it’s been done in practice in North Tyneside we’ve got a lot more of the operational detail of what that would look like if we do have to go down that route.

“Thankfully, we see very small numbers of the variants of concern in South Tyneside, to the point where those numbers are not out there in the public domain because the numbers are less than five.”

Hall was speaking at a meeting of South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) governing body on May 27, held by videolink and broadcast via Facebook.

According to a presentation for the panel, 71% of all adults in the borough have now had at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, while almost half have now had two jabs.

Neil O’Brien, chief officer at the CCG, said: “Vaccination continues to progress very well, obviously there’s the Indian variant, which I’m sure you’re as well briefed on as I am if you watch the news.”

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