Blackburn with Darwen: one confirmed case and five ‘probable’ cases of Covid-19 Omicron detected


BLACKBURN with Darwen has one confirmed and five ‘probable’ cases of the Covid-19 Omicron variant, it has been revealed.

The cases were detected through current routine testing of all positive Covid-19 test results across the UK, which look for the presence of the S gene in the sample.

The S gene is part of the Covid-19 virus which is not present in the Omicron variant.

When it does not appear in the lab results, it means the positive result is “probably” an Omicron case.

Some of Blackburn’s cases with Darwen’s Omicron are linked to recent international travel, while it appears some people have contracted the strain locally.

Community transmission occurs in other parts of the UK, due to the highly transmissible nature of the Omicron variant.

The UKHSA has previously said Omicron could be the dominant variant of the coronavirus in the UK within weeks.

Public health officials in the region are urging local residents not to panic over Omicron’s arrival, but to remain vigilant and monitor all infection control measures, including those reintroduced this week in the government plan B.

Professor Dominic Harrison, Director of Public Health for Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: “Blackburn with Darwen was among the first areas to see a peak in the Delta Variant wave in the spring.

“At that time, we learned a lot about advanced testing and immunization, and working with local partners to reach residents in all of our communities with important public health messages as quickly as possible.

“As a result, we have put in place teams and procedures and are already acting on new case data to respond quickly to the Omicron wave.

“It’s so important that everyone in Blackburn with Darwen do their part now to prevent further spread – including getting a full coronavirus vaccine and wearing face covers in public – especially given that we know about Omicron being more transmissible than the other Covid variants that we have seen.

“We also know that people who test positive for the Omicron variant are more contagious in the days before symptoms appear.”

The UKHSA believes the doubling rate of the Omicron variant is only three days – that means every three days the number of cases in England will double.

Such a rapid increase could see an Omicron wave peak in January, a time when our local health departments are already under normal winter pressures.

The council issued guidance on five ways the public can help slow and prevent the spread of Covid in our communities:

  • Wearing a face cover in public places and around vulnerable people
  • Wash your hands regularly and take hand sanitizer when we go out
  • Do regular rapid tests, especially before mixing with others
  • Get the full Covid vaccine – including the booster dose
  • And keep the rooms well ventilated, especially when spending time indoors with people we don’t live with.

Cllr Mohammed Khan CBE, Head of Blackburn with Darwen Council, added: “Blackburn with Darwen faced challenges during the pandemic, more than many other parts of the country.

“As a community, we have come together already and can do it again. Let’s take every precaution possible now to avoid having to face tighter restrictions this winter, especially at Christmas and New Years, so many of us look forward to some precious time with family and friends.

“If you have not yet accepted the offer of a Covid vaccine, please do so now to help protect yourself and those you love.”

Find more information about the Covid test and vaccination program at www.blackburn.gov.uk/coronavirus.

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