Published: 8 February 2021
Multi-agency investigations are underway after three cases of the South African variant of Coronavirus have been identified in Wales with no known travel history to the region or relevant contacts.
A total of 13 cases of the South African variant of Coronavirus have been identified in Wales. Ten of these have a travel link to Southern Africa or to international travel.
Public Health Wales is working with the Welsh Government, Betsi Cadwaladr and Swansea Bay University Health Boards, and Anglesey, Conwy and Neath Port Talbot County Borough Councils to investigate the cases with no known link to travel or relevant contacts. No outbreak has been declared.
A case of the South African variant with no known travel or relevant contacts has been 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 of the South African variant with no known travel or relevant contacts has also been identified in a member of the public on Anglesey.
This case was identified as part of an investigation into a cluster of Coronavirus cases there. No other cases of the South African variant have been identified in the cluster, and the other cases genotyped have been confirmed as not being the South African variant of the virus.
A case of the South African variant with no known travel or relevant contacts was also identified through routine sequencing in Neath Port Talbot.
The individual was already self-isolating while unwell, and no other cases of the South African variant have so far been identified associated with this individual. Contact tracing is continuing.
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.
Robin Howe, 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 investigate these three cases, and to find out where the virus was acquired, and if any onward transmission has occurred.
“It is too early to tell what is happening in terms of transmission, but as the Health Minister indicated earlier today 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.