UK

Surge testing introduced in three new postcodes over cases of South African variant

Surge testing is introduced in three new postcodes in northwest and south London after new cases of South African variant of Covid are discovered

  • Cases of the South Africa variant have been identified in two areas of London
  • Postcodes in Southwark (SE5) and Harrow (HA2 and HA3) given surge testing
  • UK today recorded 5,089 Covid cases while deaths dropped 1.5% with 64 victims

Covid surge testing is being rolled out in two more areas of London after new cases of the South African variant were discovered.

Every adult in the Southwark postcode SE5 and in HA2 and HA3 in Harrow is being encouraged to get a test even if they are not showing symptoms.

There will also be enhanced contact tracing for anyone who provides a positive test for any variant that is ‘of concern’.

More than 300 cases of the South African variant have been found in the UK so far, with surge testing already rolled out in a number of London postcodes.

Covid surge testing is being rolled out in two more areas of London after new cases of the South African variant were discovered. Similar surge testing was brought for other parts of London last month. Pictured: A test centre in Ealing

Every adult in the Southwark postcode SE5 and in HA2 and HA3 in Harrow is being encouraged to get a test even if they are not showing symptoms

Every adult in the Southwark postcode SE5 and in HA2 and HA3 in Harrow is being encouraged to get a test even if they are not showing symptoms

Testing regimes were also ramped up in Norfolk, Southampton, and Woking in Surrey where the variant was detected in February.

Scientists have expressed concerns that the mutation could be more easily spread and resistant to vaccines.

There is no evidence to suggest it increases the likelihood of serious illness or death.

It comes as the government today recorded another 5,089 Covid cases – an eight per cent rise week-on-week – while deaths dropped 1.5% with 64 victims.

The Department of Health and Social Care said in a statement: ‘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.

There will also be enhanced contact tracing for anyone who provides a positive test for any variant that is 'of concern'. Pictured: Volunteers deliver coronavirus test kits door to door in West Ealing in February

There will also be enhanced contact tracing for anyone who provides a positive test for any variant that is ‘of concern’. Pictured: Volunteers deliver coronavirus test kits door to door in West Ealing in February

‘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.’

Britain's Covid cases have risen eight per cent compared to the same time last week after 5,089 were recorded. It is thought this is linked to mass swabbing in schools, which is picking up more cases. The test positivity rate - a more reliable measure - is still falling in all regions

Britain’s Covid cases have risen eight per cent compared to the same time last week after 5,089 were recorded. It is thought this is linked to mass swabbing in schools, which is picking up more cases. The test positivity rate – a more reliable measure – is still falling in all regions

There were also 64 Covid deaths recorded today, which is down 1.5 per cent on the same time last week

There were also 64 Covid deaths recorded today, which is down 1.5 per cent on the same time last week

Cases of coronavirus began to creep upwards last week following a massive spike in Covid tests being carried out because of schools finally being allowed to reopen in England.

But the test positivity rate — one of the best ways of tracking the size of the outbreak — has continued to fall.

Surveillance studies analysing the size of Britain’s second wave also say it is still shrinking amid mounting pressure on Boris Johnson from Tory MPs to speed up his cautious lockdown-easing plans. 

And with deaths and hospitalisations continuing to fall and the vaccine roll-out expected to drastically pick up pace in the coming days, No10 will inevitably face even louder calls to ease restrictions sooner. 

Separate statistics today showed that more than 100million coronavirus swabs have now been processed by NHS Test and Trace, and that almost 24.5million Britons have had their first dose of a Covid vaccine. 

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