By Matt Jarram, Local Democracy Reporter
Mass testing is taking place at Heymann Primary School in West Bridgford following the discovery in the county of a case of the new Omicron Covid-19 variant.
The first two UK cases of the variant were discovered over the weekend, one in Nottingham, the other in Essex.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said they were both linked and connected to travel to southern Africa.
It is still unclear what threat the new variant poses, but the World Health Organisation has labelled it a “variant of concern”.
Nottinghamshire County Council said investigations into the spread of the variant locally were being carried out at a school in West Bridgford.
The school has not been named publicly, but the Local Democracy Reporting Service understands mass testing for the variant is being carried out at Heymann and parents have been informed.
The school, on Waddington Drive in West Bridgford, has around 650 pupils.
It is understood a parent of one of the children at the school has tested positive for the new variant. Their close contacts are also being traced.
Tighter rules such as mask wearing in shops and public transport will be introduced from Tuesday, November 30, by the Government after the new variant emerged.
PCR testing for people entering the country from abroad will also return, and close contacts of anyone with a case of the variant must self-isolate for ten days, even if double-jabbed.
Jonathan Gribbin, Director of Public Health for Nottinghamshire, and Lucy Hubber, Director of Public Health for Nottingham, released a joint statement following the announcement of the test result.
They said: “UKHSA are leading the ongoing investigation into the confirmed Omicron variant case in Nottingham, and we are working closely with them to ensure that all appropriate actions to identify close contacts and arrange testing are completed.
“There are things we can all do to keep ourselves and others safe.
“Please follow the Government instruction to wear a face covering on public transport and in shops and we would strongly advise also in crowded or indoor settings. In addition, try to keep your distance from people not in your household.
“As a precautionary measure, we are conducting targeted testing at a Nottinghamshire school as part of our public health investigations.”
Public Health officials and local authority figures in Nottinghamshire attended an outbreak meeting on Monday, November 29.
The headteacher at Heymann Primary School did not wish to comment.
Early evidence suggests Omicron has a higher re-infection risk, but it is not yet know whether it has any impact on the effectiveness of vaccines.
Scientists have also not yet established if it causes more severe illness than previous versions of the virus.
The new variant follows others which have been detected in the UK, including one which developed in England and became known as the Kent variant and Delta, which originated in India and became the dominant version circulating across the country.
The latest version is known scientifically as B.1.1.529, but was given the designation ‘Omicron’ by the World Health Organisation on Friday.
It now accounts for most new cases of Covid-19 in parts of South Africa, including the province of Gauteng.