INDIAN COVID VARIANT: Warning to young adults and children
A variant of the Coronavirus currently emerging in India could be a ‘significantly’ greater threat to young adults than any previous variant, Birmingham’s public health chief has warned.
And the new variant could also be a greater threat to children, Dr Justin Varney said, as he described the Indian variant as a ‘clear and present danger’ to the UK’s Covid roadmap.
The situation in India has been progressing rapidly, with 320,000 new infections on Tuesday alone and deaths rising close to 200,000 overall.
International aid has been sent to India including from the UK, while the country has also been placed on the UK’s travel red list as cases continue to surge.
The Indian variant is currently listed as a variant of interest in the UK, though it is expected to be upgraded to a variant of concern later this week.
Speaking at a council Health and Social Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee today, Dr Varney said that he was not aware of any cases of the Indian variant that had not already been placed into quarantine after returning from the country.
However he also warned of the new variant’s potential were it to make its way onto UK shores, with anecdotal evidence suggesting that young people and children are more heavily affected than before.
“There are certainly disturbing images and information coming from India at the moment that suggest that the variant is a significantly greater threat to younger adults than any previous variants, so we are taking it very seriously,” he said.
“And it is very important that anyone that has returned from India or the surrounding regions takes the quarantine guidance incredibly seriously and takes the tests that are part of the quarantine protocol.
“Currently I’ve not been alerted to any cases of the Indian variant in Birmingham that have not got off a plane, i.e. are not in their quarantine arrangements. We know that there are cases of Indian variant arriving in the UK as people left last week that were picked up from the quarantine screening, and there has been significant work which is led by public health England to make sure that people are following the quarantine rules.
“In terms of the demographic, at the moment what we have is anecdote through the media and through healthcare professionals in India. However it does appear that this variant may pose greater threat to both young people and to children.
“And across the country many areas, including Birmingham, are scenario-testing our plans if we saw a variant that did evolve that affected children more, so that we could ensure we have thought through the ramifications of that.
“But I do fear that the Indian variant, like the Brazil variant, is a very clear and present danger to our current roadmap, and therefore we have to take it very seriously.”
Words: Tom Dare, Local Democracy Reporter
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