Sunderland health chief confirms 'no evidence' of South African covid strain in city after claim of 'isolated case'

Sunderland’s public health chief has said there is ‘no evidence’ of the South African covid variant in the city after it was claimed a case had been detected in Wearside.

Thursday, 18th February 2021, 12:41 pm
Gerry Taylor, Sunderland City Council's Executive Director of Public Health and Integrated Commissioning.

But Gerry Taylor, executive director of Public Health and Integrated Commissioning at Sunderland City Council, dismissed the claim.

She said: “There is no current evidence of the South Africa variant in Sunderland and no wider actions are needed at present.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“However, we remain vigilant and follow up any cases of concern to ensure that all necessary public health measures continue to be kept in place.

“The most important thing is that people continue to follow the national guidance – limit the number of people you come into contact with, wash your hands regularly and thoroughly, keep your distance and cover your face.

“If you test positive, you must isolate to stop the spread of the virus.”

There is no evidence the South Africa variant causes more serious symptoms for the vast majority of people who become infected.

However, there are concerns if can spread more easily, and that current covid vaccines may be less effective at offering protection from the mutation.

Some areas around the country have seen “surge testing” – with door knocking by health teams tracking variant cases in certain postcode areas.

The claim there had been a case in Sunderland came as South Tees Public Health chief Mark Adams gave an update to a health scrutiny panel in Teesside.

Mr Adams was updating councillors on efforts to track one case of the mutation in Middlesbrough, which hadn’t involved in foreign travel. He said they had visited James Cook University Hospital at some point in the past couple of weeks.

The panel heard cases had also been found in Sunderland (now dismissed Gerry Taylor), Hartlepool and Scarborough – and that all had been “involved in foreign travel in one form or another”.

Support your Echo and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news, the latest on SAFC and new puzzles every day. With a digital subscription, you can see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click here to subscribe.