Research into Ipswich Hospital coronavirus outbreak finds no new variant

Sheila Mason died at Ipswich Hospital after a fall at her home in October

Genotyping and sequencing tests were undertaken after the outbreak - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

A series of tests to investigate a "significant" coronavirus outbreak at Ipswich Hospital has revealed a new variant was not to blame.

The testing comes after the hospital experienced a rapid increase in coronavirus cases in the space of one weekend last month, with the number of infected patients increasing from three to 29 in less than 48 hours.

At its peak, 54 patients tested positive for the virus – although the vast majority are said to have experienced no symptoms.

Revealing the outbreak at a Suffolk Local Outbreak Engagement Board meeting last Friday, hospital trust chief executive Nick Hulme said all specimens from testing would be sent away for genotyping and sequencing to ensure a new variant or existing variant of concern was not to blame for the rapid rise.

It is understood the results revealed no new variants or variants of concern.

The hospital also volunteered to have an independent review of its practices take place, which found issues over social distancing on site, alongside concerns over the rigour of handwashing.

Strict daily audits are now taking place to ensure guidelines are being followed, Mr Hulme said.

The most recent NHS data, covering up to April 27, shows 45 Covid-positive patients are occupying beds at Ipswich and Colchester hospitals.

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There has been zero at West Suffolk Hospital since mid-April.