Sharp rise in newly-named Delta variant cases in North Wales prompts calls for more testing
Video report by ITV Wales reporter Ian Lang
Health officials are urging people living in parts of North Wales to take a coronavirus test even if they do not have symptoms after a "sharp increase" in cases of the variant first identified in India - now renamed the Delta variant.
People living in Llandudno Junction, Llandudno and Penrhyn Bay areas have been urged to come forward and take a test as soon as possible.
A further 35 confirmed or presumptive cases of the variant were found in these areas over the weekend. On Friday, Public Health Wales confirmed they had found 18 cases.
Dr Christopher Williams from Public Health Wales told ITV News: "There's concern about every variant, in that they might result in reduced vaccine effectiveness, or that they might be more transmissible or more serious.
"We've not got evidence that this one is reducing vaccine effectiveness. The vaccine works against this variant - 80% effectiveness against two doses for any kind of symptomatic infection, and probably even higher against hospitalisation and severe outcomes.
"So it's not that that's the case, but we're worried that if there's more and more transmission of it - and it does seem to be spreading faster than the previous variant - that might cause another wave of infections, with a knock-on impact to those who are unvaccinated, or those for whom the vaccine hasn't worked. So we want to avoid increased rates, and another wave of infection really."
Dr Christopher Williams: "We want to avoid another wave of infection"
On Wednesday, the World Health Organisation announced variants are to be renamed using letters of the Greek alphabet in an attempt to move away from the "stigmatising and discriminatory" use of place names.
Experts working with WHO developed the labels for variants which are often colloquially named after the places where they are first detected.
The Kent variant will soon become known as Alpha, while the variant first identified in India will be known as Delta.
Lateral flow tests are available for those without symptoms and can be collected from the Mobile Test Unit at Ysgol Awel y Mynydd Sarn Mynach.
Those who do have symptoms can get tested at Conwy Business Centre where no appointment is necessary.
As well as the three most common symptoms of Coronavirus - a fever, a new continuous cough or loss/change of taste and smell - people are urged to get tested if experiencing the following symptoms:
Myalgia (muscle ache or pain)
Runny or blocked nose
Shortness of breath or wheezing
Richard Firth, consultant in health protection for Public Health Wales, and chair of the multi-agency incident management team, warned people to "be vigilant for the symptoms of coronavirus."
He said: “Speed is of the essence. The sooner we act, the better, so please, come forward for testing as soon as you can. 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.”
“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.
“I also urge anyone aged 39 years and under to get a vaccine as soon as possible. Besti Cadwaladr University Health Board is delivering vaccination sessions for people aged 39 and under today (Wednesday) and Thursday from 9am until 7.30pm at the Mass Vaccination Centre at Venue Cymru, Llandudno.”
In Wales, the number of cases of the Delta variant currently stands at 58, although the number is expected to go up.