Cases of the Indian variant of coronavirus have been confirmed in York.
Public health bosses say the number of cases of variants confirmed in the city is “very low” and that surge testing, or door-to-door coronavirus testing, is not currently required.
The council declined to say how many cases have been confirmed because the numbers are low – but all have been traced and their contacts notified, the public health team said.
“There is no evidence that the variants are resistant to the vaccine, so people should be reassured that as long as they are following the hands, face, space guidelines, there’s nothing to be worried about,” said Fiona Phillips, assistant director of public health for York.
York’s coronavirus rate is currently 18 per 100,000 and York and Scarborough Hospitals Trust currently has only three patients with Covid-19, none of them in intensive care.
Sharon Stoltz, director of public health, said: “In York, we have had very few cases of the variant identified as B.1.617.2, first found in India.
“Public Health England has investigated these cases and no further action has been required.
“In some areas of the country, having a variant of concern has led to surge testing. We have not been required to do this, but we have surge testing plans in place, should this become necessary.”
Scientists are keeping a close eye on the spread of the Indian variant across the UK, but there are currently no signs that infection is leading to rising hospital admissions, experts have said.
Ms Phillips said people testing positive for variants of concern are traced quickly and have often recently returned from travelling abroad.
She said: “As foreign travel opens up more, we do really need people to follow that advice when they return from foreign countries in terms of the quarantining that they need to do. That’s going to be really key in the next step of the roadmap.
“Not all tests are processed in labs that can do the full sequencing.
“There’s probably about 30 to 40 per cent of tests in York are processed in labs that can do that sequencing.
“It takes about a week for the full sequencing to be done and once that sequencing is done, if it is identified that it is either a variant of concern or a variant under investigation then that is automatically sent to our colleagues in Public Health England.
“They will do the contact tracing and follow up with the individual.
“For those cases where we know it’s one of those variants, they are followed up reasonably quickly.
“But there is a risk that people could have one of those variants that hasn’t been done in the lab that had done the full sequencing, so it is something that we still need to be cautious around.
“What we see is that most of those variants are where people have come back from foreign travel.”