THE NEW Coronavirus variant could be responsible for almost two thirds of the new infections in Coventry and the wider West Midlands.
Research from Public Health England shows that 70 per cent of recent cases are the new variant which the Government says is far more transmissible than the original strain.
That has contributed to Coventry’s current rate of 583 people with the virus for every 100,000 of the population, the highest number since mass testing started.
The new variant has led to similar surges in cases – particularly in London and the south east of the country – and has prompted calls for stricter social distancing measures.
Coventry City Council leader Coun George Duggins said people in the city must take notice of the rapid rise in new variant infections and take action to help slow the spread.
“We know that the vast majority of people in our city are following safety guidelines and doing all they can to protect themselves and others from the virus. However, we all need to see if we can do even more.
“This new variant is more contagious meaning it can be passed on very easily and can quickly infect large numbers of people.
“Our new testing centres and the roll-out of the vaccines are major steps in our battle with COVID but the facts are that the best way of currently protecting yourself from the new variant is to follow the preventative advice.”
Coventry’s Director of Public Health Liz Gaulton echoed the council leader’s calls.
She said: “I know we have been talking about preventative measures for almost a year now, but the facts are they remain the best way of protecting yourself from the virus – we must not stop doing them.
“That includes the simple message of ‘Hands, Face, Space’ – wash your hands thoroughly and regularly and use sanitiser, wear a face covering when in public – following the lockdown advice and keeping to social distancing guidelines.
“Until the vaccine has been rolled out further, which will take time, this is the best defence in protecting yourself, slowing the spread of the virus and easing the pressure on the NHS.”
As part of the battle against the virus, the council has this week announced additional community testing centres where people who are symptom-free can take a Lateral Flow Test to see if they have the virus. You can read about those here.
But anyone with Covid-19 symptoms should book a free test immediately by dialling 119 or visiting www.nhs.uk/coronavirus.
For details and all the latest COVID-19 news and guidelines, visit www.coventry.gov.uk/coronavirus