COVID-19: Surge Testing over South African Variant for Components of London, South East, West Midlands, East England and North West Political Information
Household coronavirus testing is rolled out in parts of England amid concerns that the variant discovered in South Africa could spread to some regions.
It has been found that a “small number” of people are infected with the COVID-19 Variant – although there are no travel links – means that everyone over the age of 16 in the affected areas is asked to perform a PCR test.
The government said the surge testing program would begin in:
- London – W7 (Ealing), N17 (Haringey) and CR4 (Croydon)
- West Midlands – WS2 (Walsall)
- East England – EN10 (Broxbourne)
- South East – ME15 (Maidstone) and GU21 (Guildford)
- North West – PR9 (Preston)
The first announcement came when Surrey County Council said Monday afternoon that two people had caught the more contagious Coronavirus Variant that had “no links to trips or previous variant cases”.
It notified people in the Goldsworth Park and St. Johns areas of Woking that they would have a test posted in their mailbox that would be collected by officials later that day and sent to a laboratory for analysis.
The program will be extended to Egham in the next few days.
In Kent, the county council announced that police officers will be among the groups that visit households in the ME15 postcode district asking people to “do a PCR test there and then”.
People in the affected areas do not need to self-isolate unless they have symptoms, have previously tested positive, or have been identified by Test and Trace as being in close contact with another person with the disease.
To reassure the public, the Department of Health and Social Affairs said, “There is currently no evidence that this variant is more serious than others or that the regulated vaccine would not protect against it.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it was “important that we do everything we can to stop the transmission of this variant” and urged everyone to get tested.
He added: “The best way to stop the virus – including new variants – from spreading is to stay at home and follow any restrictions in place. Until more people are vaccinated, this is the only way to stop the spread of the virus Virus control. “
So far, a total of 105 cases of the South African variant have been found in Great Britain.
Just over a week ago, Mr Hancock said that all cases identified so far have been linked to travel from South Africa, but community transmission appears to have since been detected.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, speaking on a visit to a vaccine center in Batley, West Yorkshire, also tried to reassure people.
“We are confident that all of the vaccines we use offer high levels of immunity and protection against all variants,” he said.
“What is interesting and exciting about … the vaccines we are developing is that they can be adapted to deal with new variants as they arise.
“The fact is, we’ll be living with COVID for a while, to come one way or another.”
Professor Anthony Harnden, chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization, told Sky News in late January: “The new variants abroad are a real concern – the South African and the Brazilian.
“And there is evidence that there will be a vaccination, but I think we have to get used to it.
“We live in a world where the coronavirus is so widespread and mutating by nature that there will be new varieties popping up in all sorts of countries.
“We may find ourselves in a situation where we need an annual coronavirus vaccine, much like we do with the flu vaccine.
“However, the public wants reassurance that these technologies are relatively easy to tweak and tweak. Once we find the predominant strains, the vaccines can be changed.”