SURGE testing for Covid-19 is being rolled out from today, Thursday, May 13 following the confirmation of a number of cases of the South African variant of coronavirus in Redditch.
A mobile testing unit (MTU) has been deployed at the Abbey Stadium offering PCR testing and local people are invited to be tested.
PCR home testing kits will also be provided across the affected areas.
It will be open for up to two weeks, depending upon demand.
Every person living or working in the specified testing area within Redditch over the age of 16 is strongly encouraged to take a PCR Covid-19 test this week, even if they are not showing symptoms.
Testing will also be offered to children, however testing of children is at the discretion of their parents.
To find out if your postcode is included in this testing and for more information please visit www.worcestershire.gov.uk/covid19variant
It is hoped the testing will, in combination with measures such as hands-face-space and following national guidance, help to suppress and control the spread of the virus, while enabling a better understanding of the variant.
Positive tests will be sequenced to identify any further spread, enabling a better understanding of the variant and identifying if there are any more cases of this particular strand of the virus in the area.
If someone tests positive, they must self-isolate immediately and pass on details of their contacts to NHS Test and Trace.
Dr Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Advisor for NHS Test and Trace, said: “As part of our proactive sequencing work, we have identified cases of Covid-19 variants in a number of areas across England.
“A small proportion of these cases have no link to international travel suggesting that there are some cases in the community.
“PHE and NHS Test and Trace are monitoring the situation closely and appropriate public health measures such as increased testing and contact tracing are being put in place where necessary.”
Dr Kathryn Cobain, director for public health for Worcestershire, said: “We are working closely with Public Health England following a small number of Covid-19 variant cases that have been identified in Redditch.
“There does not appear to be any links to travel and we have no evidence to suggest that this variant is any more severe than others.
“We will be offering additional testing in specific areas of Redditch over the coming days in order to suppress any onward spread of the virus and I’d ask everyone in the relevant areas to take up this opportunity.
“This is also a reminder to everyone in the county to continue to follow the guidelines and book a PCR Covid-19 test as soon as possible if you are showing symptoms (continuous cough, high temperature and/or loss of taste/smell) and self-isolate until you have received your result.”
Redditch MP Rachel Maclean said: “I know the news of confirmed cases of the South African variant in Redditch will be concerning, but it’s because of the testing capacity we now have that we can surge testing to local areas in order to contain outbreaks.”