Indian coronavirus variant confirmed at North West college

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Cases of the Indian variant have been confirmed among a coronavirus outbreak at a college attended by Merseyside students.

More than 30 people are understood to have tested positive for Covid-19 in the past week, prompting Runshaw College in Leyland to close to pupils and move to online learning until May 17.

A number of the college's students live in Southport.

All members of the "Runshaw College community" have been asked to take a PCR test, as soon as possible, and this includes the households of all students and staff.

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Genetic testing by Public Health England (PHE) identified that some of the recent cases in the college community are the variant officially known as B.1.617, which was first detected in India in October.

As a precaution PHE are doing further testing to track the cases and limit the spread of the outbreak.

A deep clean will be undertaken at both campuses and all students and staff will be asked to take a Covid-19 test, even if they don't show any symptoms.

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Part of a statement on Runshaw's website says the college's "absolute priorities" are to "protect the health, safety and wellbeing of all members of the college community; and provide outstanding teaching, learning, assessment and support for all learners."

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On Friday (May 7), a PHE spokeswoman said cases of the Indian variant rose from 202 to 520 in the past week across England

Scientists do not yet know whether this variant is more infectious or resistant to vaccines.

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