The health secretary says the emergence of the variant is a “stark reminder the fight against this virus is not over yet”
A door-to-door period of mass testing of 80,000 people in England is being implemented in order to find “every single case” of the South Africa coronavirus variant, which is reportedly more infectious than the original disease.
Of the 105 cases of the new variant of COVID-19, 11 of them that have been identified over the past five or six days do not appear to have any links to international travel, which suggests that there may be pockets of transmission within local communities in the country.
Mobile testing units, as well as home testing kits will be deployed to areas where the COVID-19 variant has been detected.
Matt Hancock said during a Downing Street press conference that: “It’s a big effort getting this new variant… essentially finding every single case of it, that is the goal.”
This comes after lockdown restrictions in the Isle of Man have been entirely lifted thanks to the “supportive, patriotic” public who are being praised for the way that they have followed the lockdown measures to tackle COVID-19.
Household testing will be implemented across a number of regions, with so-called “surge testing” taking place in:
- London – W7 (Ealing), N17 (Haringey) and CR4 (Mitcham)
- West Midlands – WS2 (Walsall)
- East of England – EN10 (Broxbourne)
- South East – ME15 (Maidstone) and GU21 (Woking)
- North West – PR9 (Southport)
Mr Hancock has said that it was “imperative” that people in these parts of the country stay at home and take a coronavirus test when it is offered to them, even if they currently show no symptoms of the show.
“The most important thing is that people in the postcode areas outlined need to take extra special precautions,” the health secretary said.
“It is absolutely vital that people in those areas minimise all social contact and get a test when the opportunity arises.”
This comes after a Tory MP who has urged anti-vaccination campaigners to keep going with their fight against COVID-19 restrictions, telling them that NHS capacity figures are being “manipulated” is “wrong” and “completely out of order”, senior minister Michael Gove has said.
The Health Secretary did not explicitly rule out the prospect of tougher measures within areas with cases of the South African variant, saying “we’re always looking at what we need to do” and “further measures are always there”.
But the health secretary added: “We already have this very strong set of rules, indeed very strong laws in place, against people travelling unnecessarily, unless that travel is essential.”
“So what I’d say is that if you’re in one of the postcode areas I’ve set out, if you’re in an area where the new variant has been found, then stay at home and let’s get this new variant totally under control.”