Nottingham Covid variant Omicron case was discovered at University of Nottingham

A University of Nottingham student has become the second person locally to test positive for the Omicron variant.

By Matt Jarram, Local Democracy Reporter

The Nottingham person found to have tested positive for the new Omicron variant of Covid-19 is a University of Nottingham student.

They have been found to have the version of the virus first identified in South Africa following further testing of their positive Covid-19 sample.

The case was announced on Saturday but no further information was released at the time.

A University of Nottingham spokesperson said on Tuesday afternoon (November 30): “Whilst we do not ordinarily comment on individual cases, we can confirm that a student is among the increasing number of people reporting cases of the Omicron variant nationwide.

“The student has been off campus and self-isolating throughout the period of infection. We are supporting them in liaison with the public health authorities and wish them a speedy recovery.”

The university did not say whether or not the case is linked to recent travel, or say whether or not the case was linked to Saturday’s announcement of a first case in Nottinghamshire.

But the UK Health Security Agency later clarified that the university case is the positive test announced on Saturday, rather than a second, new positive case of the variant in Nottingham.

The university added the news “underlines the importance” of everyone following new Government restrictions introduced today, which include compulsory face mask wearing on public transport and in shops.

The spokesperson added: “The university has strong Covid security measures in place, encouraging full vaccination and weekly Covid tests for staff and students, and we have gone beyond government policy in now mandating the use of face mask across campus, in addition to the government requiring their use on public transport and in shops.”

It is still unclear what threat the new variant poses, but the World Health Organisation has labelled it a “variant of concern”.

The case is the first of two UK cases of the variant discovered over the weekend, one in Nottingham, the other in Essex.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) says both are linked and connected to travel to southern Africa.

On Monday, November 29, Nottinghamshire County Council said further investigations into the first Nottingham case 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 Primary School and parents have been informed.

The school, on Waddington Drive in West Bridgford, has around 650 pupils.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service asked Public Health Nottingham for more information about the new University of Nottingham case.

A spokesperson said: “We don’t comment on individual cases. We can confirm that UK Health Security Agency are leading on this and that all contacts have been identified and contacted.”

The University of Nottingham spokesperson added overall the university currently has less than 20 Covid-19 cases, of the older established variants, among a student population of 35,000 and all are self-isolating in line with national guidance.

As of 9am on Tuesday, the UK total number of Omicron cases stood at 14.

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.

This story was updated and corrected 30.11 15:00 following further information from the UKHSA that the University of Nottingham case is the only single case in Nottingham/Nottinghamshire – this case is the same case reported at the weekend – not a second positive case in Nottingham as previously reported. 

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