Further measures to tackle Delta (B1.617.2) Variant
Additional measures including surge testing, tracing, isolation support and maximising vaccine uptake, will be deployed rapidly across Greater Manchester and all Lancashire County Council areas.
The new interventions follow extensive COVID-19 surveillance which has detected a number of cases of the Delta (B1.617.2) variant in these communities.
Introduction of these additional measures will be led by local authorities to ensure the right steps are taken at the right time.
Testing, isolation and vaccinations will – in combination with existing guidance such as hands, face, space, fresh air– help suppress and control the spread of the virus and variants.
As part of the package, there is extra guidance on steps people can take, such as minimising travel in and out of the affected areas, to keep their loved ones and their communities safe.
Support available to local areas will include:
- Surge Rapid Response Teams, a specialist team, can be deployed to support local authorities with logistics, planning and workforce to support measures such as testing, door-to-door visits to engage with residents and other activities;
- Military support to help local areas with testing, door-to-door community engagement, planning and logistics with decisions made based on local needs, including support from the nationally funded Military Aid to the Civil Authority (MACA);
- supervised in-school testing;
- wastewater testing samples prioritised for sequencing;
- specialist communications support to increase awareness and focus engagement with disadvantaged groups;
- maximising vaccine uptake by expanding existing assets, developing new capacity and increasing local and targeted communications;
- supervised in-school testing and discretion to reintroduce face coverings in communal areas in schools if Directors of Public Health decide it is appropriate;
- surge testing and enhanced contact tracing; and enhanced monitoring (genomic sequencing, genotype assay testing).
Chief Executive of the UK Health Security Agency Dr Jenny Harries said: “This variant is now the dominant strain of this virus across the UK, with cases continuing to rise in some areas. The most important thing that people in these areas can do is remain cautious, work from home if possible and remember to practise hands-face-space and fresh air.
“Getting the vaccine gives a strong level of protection against this variant and I strongly recommend that everyone gets the jab when the NHS invites you – it will protect you and your loved ones.”
Councillor David Molyneux, leader of Wigan Council, said: “Across Wigan Borough we have unfortunately seen an increase in cases over recent weeks coinciding with surges in neighbouring areas and other parts of the North West.
"We welcome the additional support announced today and we hope to see an improvement in our figures as soon as possible.
“Throughout the pandemic we have been urging residents to be kind and take personal responsibility to help keep themselves and loved ones safe, and we continue to do so.
“Coronavirus has not gone away. Please follow the public health guidance, book a vaccination when invited to and remember the 3Ws; wash your hands, watch your distance and wear a face mask when required.”
Early research shows that vaccines provide strong protection against the new variants, with effectiveness against symptomatic disease from the Delta (B.1.617.2) variant is similar after two doses compared to the Alpha variant (B.1.1.7), and even higher levels of effectiveness are expected against hospitalisations and death.
The government and its world-leading scientists are closely monitoring the evolving situation and the rates of variants, and the government will not hesitate to take additional action whenever necessary.
Posted on Tuesday 8th June 2021