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Background

South African variant cases in Wales

Written by on 17th February 2021

Public Health Wales is confirming four additional cases of the South African variant of Coronavirus in Wales, bringing the total number to 17. 

The four new cases are all linked with international travel or have relevant contacts, and there is no evidence of wider community transmission. 

Three of the new cases were identified in West Wales, and all had links to international travel.  The remaining new case was identified as part of contact tracing associated with the known case in Neath Port Talbot.

Public Health Wales is working with the Welsh Government, Betsi Cadwaladr, and Swansea Bay University Health Boards, and Carmarthenshire, Conwy, Neath Port Talbot to investigate cases with no known link to travel or relevant contacts.  No outbreak has been declared.

North Wales

A case of the South African variant with no known travel or relevant contacts was identified in Conwy as part of investigations into a small cluster of cases of Coronavirus there. 

No other cases of the South African variant have been identified in the cluster, and other cases genotyped have been confirmed as the original variant.  Appropriate control measures were in effect for the individual, who has now recovered.  Contact tracing is underway. 

A case on Anglesey which was initially not linked with travel was, following investigation, linked back to international travel.

South Wales              

Following a case of the South African variant with no known travel or relevant contacts identified through routine sequencing in Neath Port Talbot, a person tested during extended contact tracing has tested positive. Both individuals were self-isolating while unwell.

West Wales

Public Health Wales is working with Hywel Dda University Health Board and Bridgend and Carmarthenshire County Councils to investigate a small number of cases of Coronavirus in the area.

Genomic sequencing by Public Health Wales confirms three cases to be of the South African variant.  These relate to one family and are linked to recent international travel.  A non-household contact, who provided welfare support to the family while they were isolating, also tested positive for Covid and further genotyping is underway.  Contacts of this individual were quickly identified, they isolated and subsequently tested negative for Coronavirus.

Anyone who is a contact of any of these cases will be contacted through the Test, Trace and Protect process and provided with additional advice for themselves, their household and other contacts.

Dr Giri Shankar, Incident Director for Public Health Wales said:

“The identification of these cases demonstrates that well-established processes under the Test, Trace, Protect strategy are proving to be effective.

“Public Health Wales is working in close partnership with the Welsh Government, local health boards and local authorities to find out where the virus was acquired, and if any onward transmission has occurred.

“This is a small number of cases and there is no evidence at the moment that sustained community transmission has occurred.

“There is no evidence that the South African variant causes more serious illness; there is some evidence that it can spread more easily, and that vaccines – although still effective – may not work quite as well against it.

“Because of the emergence of new more transmissible variants, it is even more vital that we all keep to the lockdown restrictions and do not meet other people.

“This means that you must stay at home. If you must leave home keep your distance, wash your hands regularly, and wear a face mask when required according to the regulations.”

If you or a member of your household develop a cough, fever or change in sense of taste or smell, you must self-isolate immediately and book a free Coronavirus test, either by calling 119 or by visiting https://gov.wales/getting-tested-coronavirus-covid-19.