Surge testing for Covid-19 has revealed that very few Bristolians are carrying the virus without knowing it.
Less than one per cent of those who took part returned a positive result for the virus, the local authorities for both areas have announced.
The so-called Bristol variant is a version of the more infectious Kent variant with an additional mutation, E484K, feared to make the virus less preventable by vaccination.
Speaking during one of his regular Facebook Live Q&A sessions last night (February 24), Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees said public health officials were still awaiting the results of genomic sequencing to determine how many of the positive cases identified through surge testing were carrying the mutation of concern.
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“The background positives were around less than one per cent, which is really good news because what it tells us is there aren’t a large number of people without symptoms just lingering in the background that we don’t know about,” he said.
Mr Rees said the variants had sprung up as a natural consequence of the ongoing spread of Covid-19.
“So stamping on this virus early…is a really strong lesson for us,” he said.
“The less virus is out there in people, the less opportunity it has to mutate, the less opportunity it has to mutate into a form that may be more able to spread or resistant is some form to the vaccines.”
Case numbers may be falling and vaccination numbers rising, but people should continue to stick to the rules of “Hands, Face, Space” and not become “prematurely overconfident”, he said.
Mr Rees said the rate of new cases in Bristol was still “high”, at 131 new cases per 100,000 people as at Monday (February 22).