Surge Covid testing deployed to TWO NEW areas to stop spread of South Africa variant

SURGE testing has been deployed to two new areas of England to stop the spread of the South Africa variant of coronavirus.

Residents in Stockton-on-Tees, County Durham, and Brent, north west London, are urged to take up the offer of a test.

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Positive cases will be sequenced for genomic data to help understand Covid-19 variants and their spread within those areas.

A Department of Health statement said: "Working in partnership with the local authorities, additional testing and genomic sequencing is being deployed to targeted areas within Stockton-on-Tees (TS19) and Brent (North Wembley), where the Covid-19 variant first identified in South Africa has been found.

"The increased testing is being introduced in addition to existing extensive testing and, in combination with the public following current lockdown rules and Hands Face Space advice, will help to monitor and suppress the spread of the virus.

"Positive cases will be sequenced for genomic data to help increase our understanding of Covid-19 variants and their spread within these areas.

"Enhanced contact tracing will be used for individuals testing positive with a variant of concern. 

"This is where contact tracers look back over an extended period in order to determine the route of transmission.

"People living within the targeted areas are strongly encouraged to take a Covid-19 test when offered, whether they are showing symptoms or not.

"People with symptoms should book a free test online or by phone so they can get tested at a testing site or have a testing kit sent to them at home."

The variant was first found in the country in December and experts have warned that it can spread at a faster rate than others – with hundreds more undetected cases thought to be in the country.

Out of several new variants of Covid which have spread in the UK since the end of 2020, the three of most concern emerged in Kent (B1.1.7), South Africa (B.1.351) and Brazil (P.2).

But earlier this week, health bosses revealed they had detected six cases of another Brazilian strain, known as P1.

Residents in five postcodes have been urged to get tested – while officials continue to hunt for one of the six people who has not been traced.


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