A number of cases of a new variant of COVID-19 have been identified in the Liverpool City Region (inc Knowsley), Warrington and Lancashire.
The new mutation, referred to as E484K, is being investigated by Public Health England.
There is currently no indication that this version of the virus is more transmissible or results in more serious illness but work is ongoing to identify if the variant is more resistant to antibodies within the vaccine.
This mutation of the virus is different to the South African variant, which has been identified in Southport and other places in the UK this week.
Dr Sarah McNulty, Knowsley Director of Public Health commented:
“It is concerning that we are seeing a cluster of cases of a new variant in our region, particularly at a time when our case rates here in Knowsley are still the highest in the country.
What remains abundantly clear is that we all need to follow the rules and stay at home as much as possible. Every variant we are seeing still thrives on human contact and interaction so the safest thing for us all to do is limit our contact with anyone outside of our household. And please remember the basic rules there to protect us all – wash your hands thoroughly, wear a face covering and maintain social distancing.”
If you have any symptoms (high temperature, new or persistent cough or a loss of taste or smell), stay at home and book at test through www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or ring 119. Remember, other people in your household, support bubble or close contacts must also self isolate until you get your test result. If it is positive, everyone needs to self-isolate for 10 days, which is now a legal requirement and you could face up to a £1,000 fine if you don’t self-isolate.
If you have attended a SMART testing site and your result is positive, you still need to have your test result verified through a PCR test (laboratory test) which can be booked through www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or ringing 119.
If you need help and support, please call the Knowsley Volunteer Support Line or 0800 073 0043.