Household coronavirus testing will be rolled out across parts of England after concerns the variant discovered in South Africa could be spreading in some regions.
A “small number” of people have been found to be infected with the COVID-19 variant – despite having no travel links – meaning all those over the age of 16 in affected areas will be asked to take a PCR test.
The government said the “surge testing” scheme will begin in:
- London – W7 (Ealing), N17 (Haringey) and CR4 (Croydon)
- West Midlands – WS2 (Walsall)
- East of England – EN10 (Broxbourne)
- South East – ME15 (Maidstone) and GU21 (Guildford)
- North West – PR9 (Preston)
The first announcement came when Surrey County Council said on Monday afternoon that two people had caught the more infectious coronavirus variant who had “no links to travel or previous variant cases”.
It told people living in the Goldsworth Park and St Johns areas of Woking they would have a test posted through their letterbox, collected later the same day by officials and sent to a lab for analysis.
People in the affected areas do not need to self-isolate unless they have symptoms, have already tested positive or were identified as a close contact of someone else who has the disease through Test and Trace.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it was “vital we do all we can to stop transmission of this variant” and urged everyone asked to get tested to do so.
He added: “The best way to stop the spread of the virus – including new variants – is to stay at home and follow the restrictions in place. Until more people are vaccinated, this is the only way we will control the spread of the virus.”