Surge testing begins in Worcestershire after South African variant detected

Jess Glass, PA

Worcestershire has become the latest area to start surge testing after the South African coronavirus variant was detected in the area.

Worcestershire County Council has set up surge testing in the WR3 postcode after cases of the variant with no links to international travel were identified.

A mobile testing unit has been set up at The White Hart pub in Fernhill Heath, near Worcester, for adults with no symptoms living within walking distance.

A drive-through testing site is planned to open in the coming days, and door-to-door testing will also be made available.

Worcestershire County Council said: “Working in partnership with NHS Test and Trace, every person over the age of 18, living in the WR3 postcode and some WR9 postcodes, is strongly encouraged to take a Covid-19 test this week, even if they are not showing symptoms.”

Dr Kathryn Cobain, director for public health in the county, said: “I urge everyone offered a test to take it up to help us to monitor the virus in our communities and to help suppress and control the spread of this variant.”

A Covid-19 mobile testing unit set up at the White Hart pub in Fernhill Heath, near Worcester
A Covid-19 mobile testing unit set up at the White Hart pub in Fernhill Heath, near Worcester (Jacob King/PA)

Door-to-door and mobile testing began at the start of the month as part of urgent efforts to swab 80,000 people.
This came after 11 cases of the variant were identified in people who had no links to travel – suggesting it may be spreading in communities.

Any positive results as part of surge testing programmes will be sent for genome sequencing to identify the variant – a process which usually takes around a fortnight.

However, Public Health England said the most recent tests rolled out in a number of areas of the country this week will be prioritised in a bid to speed up the process.

Testing of around 10,000 people in Maidstone, Kent, was completed on Thursday night.

In Surrey, testing in Woking was expected to finish on Friday with door-to-door deliveries in Egham and Thorpe due to begin on Saturday.

Sefton Council said efforts to identify the variant in the Norwood area of Southport in Merseyside would continue into the weekend.

Testing in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, is being rolled out for another week until February 12, the council said.

Around 10,300 people in Walsall have been tested so far and some 560 tests had been conducted in the affected areas in Birmingham, the West Midlands Combined Authority was told.

Mobile testing units and home testing kits were also deployed this week to Hanwell, west London and Mitcham, south London.

Testing will also continue into next week in Tottenham, north London.

From Our Partners