Public health bosses say they are prepared for Deltacron Covid variant

Birmingham and Sandwell public health bosses explain how they are keeping the public safe from Covid variants

Leaders in the West Midlands say they are resilient and ready after cases of a new coronavirus strain were detected in the UK.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) revealed last month that one case of a Delta/Omicron hybrid had been discovered in the UK, which developed in an individual who had contracted both Covid variants, and their cells replicating together.

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Other cases have since been identified in the United States, France, and parts of Denmark and the Netherlands.

Scientists stress that there is now substantial immunity in the population against both Delta and Omicron.

They believe it is unlikely Deltacron will pose a significant risk to vaccines.

What has Sandwell Council said about Covid variants?

Lisa McNally, director of public health at Sandwell council, said: “Virus strains will always develop or combine into new forms.  So this new development is not unexpected.

“No cases of ‘deltacron’ have been identified in Sandwell to date, but we are maintaining our surveillance in collaboration with the UK Health Security Agency.

“Local authorities, including Sandwell, wound down their main contact tracing services when the national system stopped sending us the data we need to run them.

“However, we have designed the Sandwell contact tracing programme in a way that allows us to restart it with very short notice if and when required.

“At the moment, Sandwell still has the lowest Covid-19 case rates in the region and the second lowest in the whole of England.  Despite this, we are watching the situation carefully and our outbreak response service remains in place.”

Covid testing kit

What has Birmingham City Council said about Covid variants?

A spokesperson for Birmingham city council said: “We expect to see new variants appearing over the coming months as much of the world remains unvaccinated and there is increased mixing between people.

“The UKHSA works continually with international colleagues to review the impact of these variants on vaccine defence.

“Being vaccinated remains the most effective way of preventing death and hospitalisation with Covid and the NHS continues to encourage people to take up the offer and maintain their defence with additional doses, where eligible, for the most vulnerable.

“In Birmingham we have maintained the capacity to stand back up an increased response until the autumn as part of our Commonwealth Games resilience preparation.

“It is important that we all remain cautious and sensible taking simple everyday steps to avoid spreading the virus, like staying at home and isolating if sick, washing our hands regularly and keeping rooms well ventilated.”

How high are local Covid rates currently?

Current coronavirus statistics show Birmingham had 3,029 positive cases between March 8 and March 14. 448,547 people had been given a booster or third dose by the end of March 13.

In Sandwell, 868 positive cases were recorded between March 8 and March 14. 144,943 people had been given a booster or third dose by the end of March 13.

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What has the government said about Deltacron?

Last week, the health secretary revealed that “a handful” of Deltacron cases had been found in the UK but stressed it was “not of particular concern” as Omicron remains the dominant strain in the country.

The latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Covid-19 infections survey showed an increase in cases across the whole of the UK.

Commenting on a rise in coronavirus cases, Mr Javid said that it was “to be expected” as people are once again socially mixing, but he added that the UK was in a “good position”.

Asked about cases of Deltacron in the UK, Mr Javid told BBC Breakfast on Monday (March 14): “I think there’s only a handful of cases here in the UK, it’s not something that’s of particular concern to us at this point in time.

“We do keep the situation under review on a daily basis, but the dominant variant in the UK – 99.9% of infections are Omicron infections.

“And whilst the rate has gone up modestly in the last few days, that’s to be expected as we are now open as a country and there’s more social mixing, but there’s nothing in the data at this point in time that gives us any cause for concern.”

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