New South Africa variant testing in Lambeth

Lambeth council is asking residents in parts of the Oval area to get a Covid test after a case of the variant first identified in South Africa was detected there.

People in the affected area will receive information on how to get a test, the council said.

The appeal is for anyone who lives or travels to work in the targeted area covered by the postcodes SW8 1; SW9 0; and SW9 6B.

Details are on the council website.

People over 16 from every household in the area of who do not have Covid symptoms, are strongly encouraged to take a Covid-19 test from today (February 25).

Mobile units offering asymptomatic PCR tests will be deployed in the area.

Testing for anyone with Covid-19 symptoms has not changed and, as usual, they should book a test immediately by going to www.nhs/coronavirus or calling 119.

The council said the case is not linked to travel so public health officials are trying to detect if there are more cases of this variant in that local area.

There is currently no evidence to suggest this variant is more serious than others, or that regulated vaccines will not protect against it.

Any positive tests will be used for genomic sequencing to identify any further spread of the variant first discovered in South Africa, enabling a better understanding of it and identifying if there are any more cases of this particular strand of the virus in the area.

Anyone who tests positive, must self-isolate immediately and pass on details of anyone they have been in contact with to NHS Test and Trace when requested.

Testing in Oval follows enhanced testing in parts of West Norwood and Streatham earlier in February. The two cases are not believed to be linked.

The council said that as the national lockdown requires people to work from home unless they cannot reasonably do so, workers should not come into the area specifically to get tested.

Only those who have to come into this part of Oval to work or for essential reasons should get a test at one of the mobile testing units.

Lambeth council leader Jack Hopkins said: “There will be concern in our communities that there have now been two cases of this new strain of Covid-19 in Lambeth.

“I want to reassure people that these are separate cases, and that this enhanced testing is to better understand the variant, as well as identifying if there are any more cases in the area.

“I want to thank all Lambeth residents for following the current National lockdown: Stay at Home restrictions.

“We are now urging everyone living or working in the area with or without symptoms to get tested.

“The government has told us that there is currently no evidence that this variant causes more severe illness or that the regulated vaccine would not protect against it.

“Other than getting tested or other essential reasons, all residents are urged to follow the lockdown rules and stay at home, wash your hands regularly, keep your distance from others and wear a face covering.”

Professor Kevin Fenton, London regional director at Public Health England, 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 London.

“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 is that people continue to follow the national lockdown guidance that is in place – stay at home as much as possible, limit your number of contacts, wash your hands regularly and thoroughly, keep your distance and cover your face.

“If you test positive by any method, you must isolate to stop the spread of the virus.”