Coronavirus surge testing introduced in new areas to tackle South Africa variant – Mirror Online

New areas of England are being targeted in a fresh Covid surge testing blitz to trace the potential spread of a mutant variant.

Health authorities have announced surge testing for the South African strain in parts of the south west London borough of Wandsworth.

Two postcodes in the borough will have additional testing made available to curb the potential spread of the variant after the variant was discovered.

Increased testing is being rolled out in the Wandsworth postcodes SW11 and SW15 after a a small number of cases were found in the areas.

Residents aged over 16 in those targeted areas are strongly encouraged to take a test when offered, whether they are showing symptoms or not, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) announced today.

Streets close to Clapham Junction in Wandsworth

Surge testing is being rolled out in parts of Wandsworth including Clapham
(Image: Alamy Stock Photo)

The postcodes cover large areas of south west London.

Wandworth SW11 includes Clapham South and Battersea.

Wandsworth SW15 includes Putney, Roehampton, Putney Heath, Putney Vale and Roehampton Vale. 

Wandsworth Council said ‘a few’ cases of the South African variant had been identified in parts of Roehampton and Putney Heath and in St Mary’s Park ward in Battersea.

“Everyone over the age of 16 living in the areas should take a Covid-19 test, even if they have no symptoms,” the council tweeted.

People who do have symptoms in the affected postcodes should book a free test online or by phone.

This will enable them to either get tested at a testing site or have a testing kit sent to them at home.

Roehampton High street, south west London

The Putney district including Roehampton is being targeted for surge testing
(Image: Alamy Stock Photo)

Additional testing and genomic sequencing is being deployed to the postcodes in partnership with Wandsworth local authorities, the DHSC said.

The increased testing is being introduced in addition to existing testing and current lockdown rules.  

Positive cases will be sequenced for genomic data to help increase understanding of new virus variants and their spread within these areas, the health authority said.

Enhanced contact tracing will be used for individuals testing positive with a variant of concern, the DHSC said.

This means contact tracers will look back over an extended period in order to determine the route of transmission of the variant.

Cyclists on the Putney Embankment

Areas including Putney will be targeted for surge testing (file photo)
(Image: Getty Images)

The new surge testing drive comes as it emerges that the Kent variant could be twice as deadly as previous forms of Covid-19.

The findings in the British Medical Journal were based on analysis of 110,000 Covid-19 patients.

Epidemiologists from the universities of Exeter and Bristol identified 227 deaths in a sample of 55,000 NHS patients who had tested positive for the variant, which has become the most widespread strain in the UK.

This compared to 141 deaths in a similar sample of patients with older variants of the virus.

Following detailed analysis they concluded the variant – also called B.1.1.7 – is between 30% and 100% as deadly.

Researchers on the study emphasised that the real increase in mortality risk is more likely somewhere in the middle of those two figures.

  • People without symptoms living in affected postcodes should visit the local authority website for more information on the surge testing here.