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Surge testing in two new areas as South Africa variant continues to spread

Phil

March. 04, 2021

Surge testing will be deployed in two new areas where the South African variant of Covid-19 has been discovered.
Testing will be ramped up in North Wembley, part of the London borough of Brent, and also the TS19 postcode area in Stockton-on-Tees, County Durham, as the Government desperately tries to stamp out the spread of the variant.
It comes as a new coronavirus strain, designated as a Variant Under Investigation, has been identified in the UK , it was revealed today.
Public Health England said that 16 cases of the VUI- 202102/04 have been detected.
Increased testing is being rolled out to help monitor and suppress the virus, the Department of Health and Social Care said today, urging the public to continue following social distancing advice and lockdown rules.
People living in the targeted areas are ‘strongly encouraged’ to take a Covid-19 test when offered, whether or not they are displaying symptoms.
‘Positive cases will be sequenced for genomic data to help increase our understanding of Covid-19 variants and their spread within these areas,’ a DHSC spokesperson said.
‘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.’
Health officials also announced surge testing would begin in Ealing and Redbridge, both in the capital, to try and eliminate the South African strain.
It comes as the government scrambled to locate the mystery person who tested positive for the P.1 Manaus variant from Brazil .
Metro.co.uk exclusively revealed a map charting the spread of the variant across European countries.
Although it is only said to be present in small numbers of the population, scientists have warned how the ‘genie is out of the bottle’.
Surge testing began in South Gloucestershire on Sunday after cases of the P.1 variant were found.
The Brazilian strain, found in six Brits so far, could reinfect up to 61% of people who have already had coronavirus .
Boris Johnson insisted the emergence of the Brazilian variant would not slow down the relaxing of lockdown restrictions in England – with all measures hoped to be lifted by June 21 .
But Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who extended the furlough scheme for another six months in his Spring budget, this morning admitted lockdown easing could be delayed because ‘things might change ’.
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