Public Health Wales, Conwy County Borough Council and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board are advising people living in the Llandudno Junction, Llandudno and Penrhyn Bay areas of North Wales to be alert for Coronavirus symptoms.
The call comes after a cluster of 18 confirmed or presumptive cases of the variant of concern first identified in India, VOC-21APR-02, were found in the area. The cases are all linked, and no outbreak has currently been declared.
A mobile testing unit is being made available, and members of the public living in these areas are being urged to come forward for a test.
People who have Coronavirus symptoms, however mild, are invited to get a free PCR test at a mobile testing unit at Conwy Business Centre, Junction Way, Llandudno Junction, LL31 9XX. Opening times will be 8am to 1pm and 2pm to 8pm every day. The site is a walk-in and drive through, and no appointment is required. It will be available from Saturday 29 May up to and including Sunday 6 June.
Alternatively, members of the public can access the existing drive-through testing facility on Builder Street in Llandudno, which is open 8am to 1pm seven days a week. To access this site, people will need to make an appointment by visiting the Welsh Government website or by phoning 119.
The site is also open for lateral flow self-testing kits collection from 2pm to 8pm each day.
Residents can protect themselves and others from Coronavirus by remaining at least two metres away from everyone else, washing their hands regularly, and by wearing a face covering where required. They should take up the vaccine when offered, and self-isolate and get a test if they or anyone in their household develop symptoms.
Richard Firth, Consultant in Health Protection for Public Health Wales, and Chair of the multi-agency Incident Management Team, said:
“The emergence of cases of this transmissible new variant of Coronavirus in the Llandudno Junction, Llandudno and Penrhyn Bay areas is a reminder that we should not become complacent, even as rates of the virus across Wales remain low.
“Please be vigilant for the symptoms of Coronavirus, and get a test now. If you are contacted by contact tracers, please help to protect your community by being honest with them about your movements and complying with their instructions.”
“The sooner we act, the better. Please come forward for testing, even if your symptoms are mild. The more people with symptoms who come forward, the more cases we will find. More people can then be referred into the Test, Trace, Protect programme, allowing contact tracers to take action to put a stop to the spread of this variant in the area.”
As well as the three most common symptoms of Coronavirus - a fever, a new continuous cough, or a loss/change of taste and smell - people are now able to get a test if they have any of a new list of other symptoms too.
These are: Flu-like symptoms, which are not caused by a known condition such as hay fever, including any or all of: myalgia (muscle ache or pain); excessive tiredness; persistent headache; runny nose or blocked nose; persistent sneezing; sore throat and/or hoarseness, shortness of breath or wheezing; any new or change in symptoms following a previous negative test.
The current evidence is that variant VOC-21APR-02 is at least as easy to catch as the dominant Kent variant, but it may be slightly more transmissible. The Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines are effective against the variants first identified in India after two doses.
In Wales, the number of cases of the variant of concern VOC-21APR-02 currently stands at 58, although the number is expected to go up. The numbers of variant cases in Wales are reported on the Public Health Wales surveillance dashboard at 12pm on Tuesday and Thursday.
Besti Cadwaladr University Health Board is also delivering vaccination sessions for over 40 year olds over the weekend. Venue Cymru will be holding 1st dose AZ drop in sessions tonight (Friday 28 May) until 7.30, then again Sunday 8.30am – 12.30 pm and 1.30 - 7.30pm, and bank holiday Monday 8.30am – 12.30 pm and 1.30 - 7.30pm.