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Three cases of Brazil variant confirmed by NHS Grampian

By Chris Saunderson

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NHS Grampian has confirmed that three cases of a Brazilian variant of Covid-19 have been identified in the area.

The three positive cases were confirmed on February 27 following routine testing and the people all self-isolated on their return to Grampian and their close contacts have been identified and offered testing.

The three people are self-isolating after return to Scotland from Brazil.
The three people are self-isolating after return to Scotland from Brazil.

As an additional safety measure, the health protection team are also working to identify those with whom the close contacts may have been in contact. These people are best described as the contacts of contacts. All will be offered a Covid-19 test.

This is not standard procedure but is being undertaken in this exceptional circumstance to be absolutely sure all possible precautions are being taken.

However, a spokesperson for the health board said that the majority of people in Grampian should be reassured that they will not be directly affected by these cases. However, it must be remembered that Covid-19, no matter which variant it is, spreads in the same way. Everyone must continue to observe the current restrictions and follow the FACTS guidance to reduce their risk of being infected with any strain.

Anyone who experiences the three key symptoms of Covid-19 - a fever, new persistent cough, or a change/loss in sense of taste or smell - should isolate at home and arrange a test.

For people who are not experiencing symptoms, community asymptomatic testing is currently being piloted across Grampian, including in Keith at the former Scout hall in Fife Street.

This variant, first detected in Manaus, Brazil, has been designated ‘of concern’ as it shares some important mutations with the variant first identified in South Africa. There is some data to suggest that this variant may be more likely to cause Covid-19 infections in people who have been vaccinated or who had been infected with one of the earlier strains of “wild-type” Covid-19.

The three cases returned from Brazil at the same time and isolated together on their return to the Grampian region.

The cases isolated together at managed accommodation arranged by their employer.

At Scotland-level, work is ongoing to trace those who were on the same flight. The three travel travelled to Aberdeen via Paris and London. None of the cases were symptomatic when they travelled, and this is being undertaken as an additional precaution.

There is currently no evidence that there is community transmission of this variant in Scotland.

Clinical and trial data continues to be assessed to examine how this new variant may respond to current Covid-19 vaccines.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “The identification of this new variant is a concern but we are taking every possible precaution. We have identified these cases thanks to our use of advanced sequencing capabilities which means we are finding more variants and mutations than many other countries and are therefore able to take action quickly.

“This new variant demonstrates how serious Covid is and reinforces the need to minimise the spread of the virus. We would encourage everyone across the country to adhere to the necessary public health restrictions by staying at home except for essential purposes as this is the single best way of staying safe and stopping the spread of this virus. It is now also illegal for anyone to travel to or from Scotland unless it is for an essential reason.

“The Covid vaccination programme is one of three key ways we are working to beat this virus, along with our expanded testing programme to identify cases and break chains of transmission, and the important lockdown restrictions everyone in Scotland must follow. These three strands - following expert advice and guidance to suppress the virus, using our expanded testing programme to identify cases and break chains of transmission and rolling out vaccination as fast as supplies allow - are the three critical actions that will see us move, step by step, to protect the public, save lives and a brighter year ahead.”

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