16.08.2022

Surge testing for South African Covid variant to start in Southampton, Norfolk and Surrey

Southampton Council said one case of the South African variant was found in the SO15 area of the city, with no links to international travel. The council urged everyone aged over 16 living in the postcode area to take a Covid-19 test this week.

Three more areas in the south of England will begin surge testing to identify cases of the South African variant of coronavirus.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said additional surge testing and genomic sequencing will be deployed to targeted areas within Norfolk, Southampton and Woking, Surrey.

The areas that will be targeted include the postcodes of IP22, SO15 and GU22 respectively.

A Mobile Testing Unit (MTU) will also be deployed to issue and collect home test kits to some properties.

Christopher Hammond, leader of Southampton City Council, said in a statement: “I understand that this may be a cause for concern, but the city has responded amazingly to the pandemic and we now need to call on the support of residents in the identified postcode area to step up once more.

“This programme of targeted testing will help our health experts understand more about the spread of the South African variant and hopefully help us get out of lockdown measures as soon as possible.”

Testing will also be expanded in Manchester, where surge testing was deployed last week, to targeted areas within the M40 and M9 postcodes to track down examples of the mutation of the more transmissible Kent Covid-19 variant.

About 10,000 extra tests were rolled out in areas of the city last week after four cases of the E484K mutation, which is linked to the Kent variant mutation, were identified and found to be from two unconnected households.

The E484K mutation is also found in the South African variant. Laboratory studies have shown that viruses with this mutation can escape human defences, making them more efficient at evading natural and vaccine-triggered immunity.

Surge testing in parts of the London boroughs of Haringey and Merton, as well as Sefton in Merseyside, has been completed, said DHSC.

People living within targeted testing areas are urged to take a Covid-19 test this week even if they are not showing symptoms of the virus, said a spokesperson for the department.

“Further data on surge testing will be provided in due course,” she added.

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