This is how surge testing will work after South African Covid variant found in the north west
Coronavirus testers are to travel door-to-door in areas of England in efforts to trace and curb the spread of the South African variant of Covid-19.
Eight areas of England will see additional surge testing measures as health officials hope to urgently test 80,000 people in areas where cases have been detected.
One of the areas targeted is the PR9 postcode, which covers Southport, Burscough, Scarisbrick and Banks.
Other postcodes affected are London (W7, N17, CR4), West Midlands (WS2), East of England (EN10), and South East (ME15, GU21).
Here's what the new regime will involve:
Why has it been introduced?
Eleven cases of the variant have been identified over the last five or six days in people who have no links to travel – suggesting it may be spreading in communities.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said “we need to come down on it hard” as a policy of door-to-door testing and enhanced contact tracing was launched.
The UK has now identified a total of 105 cases of the South Africa variant.
Where will the testing happen?
The surge testing will commence in eight postcode areas including three in the capital: Hanwell, west London (W7); Tottenham, north London (N17) and Mitcham, south London (CR4).
Walsall in the West Midlands (WS2); Broxbourne, Hertfordshire (EN10); Maidstone, Kent, (ME15); Woking, Surrey (GU21); and Southport, Merseyside (PR9), will also be part of the surge programme.
How will it be carried out?
Each local authority has developed its own strategy for managing the surge testing, including opening new testing sites, sending out more home test kits and providing door-to-door testing.
Mobile testing units and additional home testing kits are being sent into the designated areas.
The Government is encouraging everyone over 16 living in the eight zones to take a test this week.
What will happen to positive tests?
Experts from Public Health England (PHE) have previously been sequencing around 5% to 10% of all positive cases looking for variants.
However, positive tests in the eight areas in the programme will all be sequenced to identify any further spread of the South Africa variant.
What do residents living in affected areas need to do?
The Government has said people with symptoms should book a test in the usual way, through the government website.
People without symptoms are directed to their local authority for information.
Additional mobile testing units will also be supplied, which people without symptoms are asked to use.
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