School pupil among Indian Covid variant cases in Barking and Dagenham

Public Health Nurse Deirdre Murphy with a vial of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccination at the mass v

Professor Kevin Fenton, London regional director for Public Health England, has advised people to get a Covid vaccine jab after an increase in cases of a variant of concern from India. - Credit: PA

A secondary school pupil is one of 10 people who has tested positive for an Covid-19 Indian variant in Barking and Dagenham, the council has confirmed.

The authority said six of those cases has been the Indian variant of concern, B16172.

This variant of the Covid-19 virus has been spreading, with Public Health England (PHE) revealing that cases in the UK had shot up by more than double last week to 1,313.

Four people in Barking and Dagenham have also tested positive for one of the two other variants that have originated in India, which are under investigation.

A council spokesperson said the town hall is working closely with PHE and that contact tracing has been carried out for all positive cases.

In the case of the pupil, she added that the school, which has not been named by the council, has followed national guidance on managing Covid cases and their contacts - with all isolating at home in line with the recommended time.

“As an added precaution, and based on advice from PHE, enhanced contact tracing and PCR testing is being undertaken with all students within the bubble group at the school to check there has been no further transmission.  

"Parents have been written to, informing them of this and they have already been hugely cooperative with the school’s regular lateral flow testing of all its pupils – a practice which is now happening across the country to help control the spread.

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“We will continue to work closely with the school and PHE to monitor the situation and if any further action is needed, parents will be communicated with directly.”

Despite concern over the Indian variant, the government has proceeded with the latest lifting of lockdown restrictions today (May 17).

This included the return of indoor gatherings and the reopening of indoor hospitality.

Professor Kevin Fenton, London regional director for PHE, said the best advice people can follow is to get tested and vaccinated, as well as the basics of hands, face, space and fresh air.

“Although total numbers remain relatively low, we have seen a significant increase in the proportion of cases of this variant of concern in London in recent weeks," he added.

“In response, we are working closely with local public health teams and borough councils to increase targeted and community testing where needed and implement whole-genome sequencing and enhanced contact tracing where cases have been identified.

“This will be increasingly important as restrictions ease further and we begin to socialise indoors.”

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