Surge testing is being rolled out in an area of Essex after a case of the South Africa coronavirus variant was found, the Department of Health has announced.
The increased surveillance will be undertaken in the CM13 postcode in Brentwood.
People living in the postcode area are “strongly encouraged” to take a test when offered, whether or not they have any symptoms of the virus.
A spokesman for the Department of Health said: “Working in partnership with the local authority, additional testing and genomic sequencing is being deployed to the CM13 postcode in Brentwood, Essex, where a single case of the Covid-19 variant first identified in South Africa has been found.”
The variant in question – also known as 501Y.V2 – was first detected in two people who arrived in the UK from South Africa in December 2020. ]
However, new cases have now been identified in people who haven’t travelled to the country, suggesting this variant could be spreading in the community.
The South African variant is thought to be far more transmissible, but not more lethal, than other variants of the coronavirus. There’s also emerging evidence to suggest it is less susceptible to immunity induced by the Covid-19 vaccines.
Surge testing has now been deployed in specific locations across numerous areas in England.
Sequencing of positive PCR tests – swabs that are processed in a laboratory – can take around two weeks, according to Public Health England.
The DHSC has said data on surge testing will be provided “in due course”.