Two South African variant Covid-19 cases found in North Yorkshire

Two cases of the more contagious South African variant of the coronavirus have been found in North Yorkshire.

The cases in Scarborough are described as “isolated” and have been linked to international travel with no threat to the local community found at this time.

As the cases are not linked to community transmission there will be no “surge testing” in the borough, like has been seen on eight postcodes this week where the variant was found.

The South African variant contains a mutation which is believed to make the virus more contagious than previous variants and also has other mutations which has lead to fears that it could reduce the effectiveness of existing vaccines.

Louise Wallace, North Yorkshire’s director of Public Health, told a meeting of the North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum this morning that the new strain had been found on the coast.

She said: “I can confirm that North Yorkshire has its first confirmed cases of the South African variant of Covid-19. This involves two cases linked to international travel, these cases are not linked to community transmission as is the position in high-profile news coverage we will all be aware of nationally.

“These two cases are in the Scarborough borough area.

“The people involved have done all the right things since turning home from abroad. They have self isolated in line with the guidance, as such there is not considered to be any community risk associated with them and, therefore, we will not be sharing any additional information about them.

“At this time we are not aware of any community cases of the South African variant of Covid-19 in North Yorkshire.”

In a press conference on Monday, Dr Susan Hopkins of Public Health England said new variants of Covid-19, including the South African one, have slightly more mutations in the spike protein which could cause “diminished effectiveness to vaccines” though she stressed that the vaccine response was still “very good” overall.

This week, the Government ordered door-to-door testing for 80,000 people in eight areas where the South African variant has been detected.

As the Scarborough cases are not thought to have been spread in the community no additional testing is planned on the coast.