Surge tests are being rolled out in more areas of England after a few more cases of the coronavirus variant, first discovered in South Africa, are discovered.
The tests are provided in:
- Middlesbrough within the TS7 zip code
- Areas in Walsall
- Certain areas in Hampshire’s RG26 postcode
People in these areas are strongly advised to have a COVID test this week, whether they have symptoms or not.
People without symptoms should visit their council’s website for information, while people with symptoms should book an NHS test in the usual way.
The South African variant is believed to be more resistant to vaccines, but experts are still confident that it will offer protection against serious diseases.
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According to Public Health England, 202 confirmed or probable cases of the variant have been found to date, with gush tests being conducted in these areas to eradicate further infections.
Middlesbrough Council said a testing center has now been set up at the Parkway Center in Coulby Newham.
All Marton and Coulby Newham areas 16 and over who have been identified as having the variant will be asked to undergo a test. No appointment is required.
City Mayor Andy Preston said: “New variants are popping up in different cities across the country.
“What is really important now is that we see if the line in Middlesbrough has spread any further.”
The Surge protection in Walsall comes after a second case of the South Africa variant has been found and not linked to travel.
Testing on the first case started and completed earlier this month.
All positive cases are sequenced for genomic data to better understand the variants and how they spread.
Localized surge tests have also recently been introduced in areas of London, Manchester, Kent and Surrey.
England’s Deputy Chief Physician, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, said this week These numbers for the South African variant were “very small”.
He said it was unlikely to become the dominant variant as it appeared to have no advantage over the Kent variant, which spreads more easily and is by far the most widely used in the UK.
One small study found that the AstraZeneca vaccine was less effective Professor Van-Tam said it was “still quite likely to affect serious illnesses”.
Oxford University and AstraZeneca have already started adapting the vaccine and say an updated version will be ready for fall if needed.
Ministers have stated that regular boosters could become the norm for protection against new variants.