RESIDENTS of Chelmsford have been urged to get a Covid test as soon as possible after the Indian variant was discovered.

The variant of concern of Covid-19 which originated from India has been identified in seven households in the city.

Essex County Council say the majority of these cases have no obvious link to foreign travel, and it is therefore likely that the variant is present in the community.

Targeted PCR testing [for those with Covid symptoms] at locations where individuals from these households are known to have visited will take place.

Public health experts are also calling for residents living in the Chelmsford City Council area to do a Lateral Flow Test [for those without symptoms] as soon as possible.

Residents can collect at home tests kits from their nearest library or pharmacy or order online.

Should a resident test positive they must then take a PCR test to confirm. If this test is positive, the results will be used by Public Health England to test for the variant.

Director of Public Health at Essex County Council, Dr Mike Gogarty said: “Though the light is at the end of the tunnel with the continued roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine, the emergence of this new variant proves we can’t let down our guard. We need anyone not showing Covid-19 symptoms, particularly those in Chelmsford, to play their part and take a test.

“I would ask that all residents across the county continue to test regularly. Regular self-testing, twice a week, with lateral flow tests can reduce the spread of infection and stop people unknowingly passing on the virus to others.”

John Spence, councillor responsible for Adult Social Care and Health, said: “It will be no great surprise that this variant has emerged somewhere in Essex.  We all want restrictions to be eased, so we want to nip this in the bud – it is not a cause for huge concern, but it is a cause for caution, and this is precautionary.”

Leader of Chelmsford City Council, Stephen Robinson said: “I understand that the news of a variant of concern emerging in Chelmsford is worrying. I have confidence in the recommendations from our Public Health team to address this issue.

“So if you live in the Chelmsford City Council area, please do pick up or order a Lateral Flow test and take it right away.

“If we all work together, continue to follow all the guidelines (including keeping our distance from others) and test and self-isolate where required, we can stop the spread.”

To order a Lateral Flow Test online, click here.

To find out where you can collect them, click here.