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PEOPLE over the age of 18 living in parts of Droitwich are being urged to take Covid tests – even if they do not have symptoms – after an outbreak of the South African variant.
The strain was discovered in the WR3 area of Worcestershire which could have spread to some WR9 areas.
Anyone in the orange area on the map (above), which includes Fernhill Heath and Martin Hussingtree, should get tested in the coming days.
Surge testing is being carried out in the WR3 and WR9 areas as the cases could not be traced back to international travel which meant they were already in the community.
Those with the strain are now self-isolating and contract tracing has been carried out to ascertain who they came into contact with.
People wanting to find out if their postcode is included in the testing area and for more information on the outbreak should visit www.worcestershire.gov.uk/covid19variant
Mobile Testing Units (MTUs) will be deployed from Saturday, February 6, offering PCR testing and local people are invited to be tested. Home testing kits will also be provided across the affected areas.
The first of these testing sites is at The White Hart Pub on Droitwich road in Fernhill Heath. It will be open from 8am to 4pm from Saturday, February 6.
Testing is available to anyone over 18 years, who lives within walking distance of the pub and who has no symptoms.
There is no car parking at the site, so people should only use this testing site if they live within Fernhill Heath or safe walking distance.
If this site is not available to them, then they should wait for the drive through testing site planned for later in the week or the door to door testing that will become available.
To use the centre, book an appointment online at https://www.worcestershire.gov.uk/covid19variant
People will need to show a booking confirmation email to attend the test centre for their test.
Anyone who has symptoms should not attend this centre and should book online in the normal way; https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test
There is currently no evidence to suggest this variant is more serious than others, or that the regulated vaccine would not protect against it.
Testing will, in combination with measures such as hands-face-space and lockdown measures, help to suppress and control the spread of the virus, while enabling a better understanding of the new variant.
Positive tests will be sequenced to identify any further spread of the new variant first discovered in South Africa, 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 on 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 know that the new variant of Covid-19, first detected in South Africa, has been identified 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.
“In response to this, we are ramping up testing in targeted areas, so we can gather more information and effectively monitor any further community transmission.”
Dr Kathryn Cobain, Director for Public Health in Worcestershire said: “The UK has one of the best genomic systems in the world which has allowed us to detect the variant originating in South Africa here in Worcestershire.
“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.
“The most important thing to do is self-isolate if you have symptoms, this stops you spreading the virus and will help us reduce the spread of this variant.
“Please limit your number of contacts, wash your hands regularly and thoroughly, keep your distance and cover your face. Please take advantage of the testing being offered.”