A CASE of the Indian variant of Covid-19 has been reported at a Winchester primary school.

St Bede, in Gordon Road, has been notified by Public Health England of a single positive case of the variant at the school.

Headteacher Sarah Duck told the Chronicle: “Public Health England (PHE) recently notified us of a single positive case of the Indian variant of Covid-19 at our school.

“We took immediate advice from PHE and asked those who had been in close contact with the case to self-isolate. As a precaution, PHE’s local Health Protection Team offered the opportunity for close contacts of the case to be tested.

“As a school, we are following the national guidance very carefully and continue to take every precaution to keep our school community safe and to prevent the spread of infection.

“We are pleased to have PHE assurance that there is currently no evidence that this particular variant causes more serious illness nor that it is more resistant to the vaccine.”

The school has been asked for when the case was reported and when it was made aware of the Indian variant.

Simon Bryant, Director of Public Health at Hampshire County Council: “We were recently made aware of a single case of the Indian variant of Covid-19 at St Bede primary school in Winchester. As with all cases of the virus in a school setting, Public Health England’s Local Health Protection Team has been working closely with the school to provide practical advice and guidance, including offering testing to close contacts of the case.

“We regularly remind our schools to closely follow the national guidance to keep their school communities safe and to help prevent the spread of infection. St Bede has taken robust measures to protect pupils and staff and is continuing to do so. This includes ensuring staff and pupils follow self-isolation guidance where required, maintaining class bubbles, ongoing promotion of twice weekly testing, as well as good hand hygiene at all times.”

“I understand that people may be concerned about variants of the virus, and the Indian variant has received a lot of publicity recently, but it’s important to emphasise that there is currently no evidence that this causes more serious illness or is resistant to the vaccine. It’s important that we all keep following the ‘hands-face-space-and let in fresh air’ rules to protect ourselves against all variants of Covid-19 – doing this will help ensure we can continue enjoying our new freedoms throughout the summer and beyond.”

The case comes as Downing Street has said that updates on plans for domestic coronavirus “passports”, announcements on easing social distancing requirements and further guidance on weddings could be pushed back due to uncertainty over the Indian variant.

The spread of the highly transmissible variant has placed plans for the further easing of restrictions in jeopardy despite the lifting of some lockdown measures across Great Britain today.

Last week Boris Johnson promised “we’ll be saying more later this month about exactly what the world will look like” on June 21 “and what role there could be – if any – for certification and social distancing”.

He also told MPs that “we will before the end of this month, set out all the details about the marriage world post-June 21”.

But Downing Street refused to commit to those timetables.

“We need time to assess the latest data on this variant first identified in India so I’m not going to give a set time for doing that,” the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said.

“We want to do everything possible to give people enough time to prepare.”

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