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Derby doctor warns of serious new Covid variant risk

The director of public health for Derby has urged people not to put vulnerable citizens at risk from Covid – while the chances of a new variant sweeping the country are “significant”.

Dr Robyn Dewis said that, although case numbers have improved in the city in recent weeks, Covid is “not going away” and people must remain careful despite the recent change of guidance.

Latest data released states the week up to January 29 there were more than 2,800 cases in the city. This is said to have dropped from the 5,000 cases mark which was evident in the New Year period.

But Dr Dewis – leading Derby’s fight against the pandemic – warned a new variant could change the steady progress being made in the city which has seen significantly fewer positive case numbers.

“I think the chances of a new variant are still significant,” she said.

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“A new variant would put all our thinking right now out the window and we would have to start again.

“What I think we will eventually move towards to is the virus becoming endemic. To get to that stage we will then know what is going to happen in the future, but I don’t think we are there yet.

“I think now there is still uncertainty over variants and the understanding of what a normal pattern of Covid will be .

“The key message is going to back what we were doing safely and remembering our hand hygiene and face covering when we are in crowded environments.

“And there is that particular message around our vulnerable members of community and making sure if we’ve got symptoms we are not going out and about, we are not meeting and putting those vulnerable members at risk.”

Earlier this week it was confirmed that at the end of January almost 600 children of primary school age in Derby had been suffering from Covid.

Speaking at a health scrutiny meeting of Derby City Council this week, Dr Dewis said the number of children contracted by the virus could increase in the coming weeks.

From this week children aged between 5 and 11, deemed the most vulnerable, have been allowed to have Covid vaccinations to boost their protection.

A recent Derby City Council health meeting revealed how outbreaks of coronavirus in Derby primary schools are “much more significant” than before
A recent Derby City Council health meeting revealed how outbreaks of coronavirus in Derby primary schools are “much more significant” than before

Dr Dewis added: “For individual children themselves, Covid is a really mild infection.

“The issue what we are seeing is, unintentionally, children are really good at spread viruses with the activities they do and the people they mix with.

“When we see case rates rising in children we will also then a week or so later is if case rates are also rising in the age group that would be their parents and following that the age group of their grandparents.

“We are concerned for the numbers but not for the children themselves.”

Dr Dewis recommended to parents to get children tested if they feel it’s necessary – especially if they are showing symptoms such as a high temperature, continuous cough and loss or change to sense of smell.

She added: “The main message for parents is around the children’s awareness of symptoms and if they are showing them then they get a PCR test.

“For primary school children, if parents wish to, they are able to use the lateral flow tests with them.

“It is not recommended in the same way as secondary school children but it is on a parent/child case by case basis.

“If the parent feels that the child is happy to have a lateral flow test – and there are some kits that are easier to do – we encourage to do them twice weekly as well.”

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