Everyone over the age of 11 who lives or works in Lambeth is being asked to take a PCR Covid-19 test after new cases of the variant first identified in South Africa were found in the borough.
Reports said 44 confirmed cases and 30 probable cases have been found in Lambeth and Wandsworth.
All identified cases are isolating or have completed their isolation, and their contacts have been traced and asked to isolate.
Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser for NHS Test and Trace, said the cluster of cases is “significant”.
“It’s really important people in the local area play their part in stopping any further spread within the local community,” she said.
Lambeth council said tonight (12 April) that additional testing being introduced will help to identify quickly any further cases and help limit any potential spread.
Eight additional testing sites across Lambeth opend today and people are encouraged to get a test as soon as possible, even if they have no symptoms.
“It is important people take a PCR test as these can identify specific variants,” the council said.
“Rapid lateral flow device (LFD) tests are also widely available, but can only determine positivity for Covid-19, not specific variants.”
Tests are available across the borough and details of test centres are available on the council website or by calling 119.
There are also walk-in appointments in Lambeth and home tests available
You can book online on someone else’s behalf if they cannot do so themselves.
People who are unable to book online, and do not know someone who can book for them, can call 020 7926 5559 for help seven days a week from 10am to 4pm.
Facilities are also available in the London borough of Wandsworth.
If you do have Covid-19 symptoms, you should get tested at one of several symptomatic local test sites. You must book an appointment at www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or call 119.
For people who test positive, Lambeth council has a comprehensive Covid-19 self-isolation support service for those who need it.
This includes payments of up to £500 for residents on low incomes. To find out more call 0800 054 1215, 9am to 5pm, seven days a week or visit www.lambeth.gov.uk/self-isolate-help.
Residents are also being asked to get vaccinated if invited by the NHS.
The council said all residents must continue to follow national Covid-19 restrictions, which are currently at Step 2 on the roadmap out of lockdown.
Lambeth is one of several boroughs in which small numbers of the South Africa variant have been found since the start of this year.
The council said all previously identified cases are now self-isolating and robust contact tracing has taken place to trace their contacts and ask them to self-isolate.
The council said that tere is currently no evidence to suggest the South Africa variant is more serious than others, or that the regulated vaccines will not protect against it.
Anyone who tests positive must self-isolate immediately and pass on details of their contacts to NHS Test and Trace when contacted.
Positive tests will be examined in a laboratory to determine whether any of them are the variant first identified in South Africa.
Ruth Hutt, the director of public health for Lambeth, said: “It is vital that all Lambeth residents take an asymptomatic PCR test so that we can identify all cases in order to stop the spread of this variant of concern.
“Alongside taking a PCR test, we are asking everyone who lives and work in the borough to continue following the guidance in place to stop the spread of Covid-19.
“That includes limiting your contacts with other people, washing your hands regularly and thoroughly, keeping your distance and covering your face.
“If you test positive for Covid-19 via a PCR test or rapid lateral flow test it is crucial that you self-isolate so you don’t pass on the virus, and support is available to help you do that.”
Anyone who is over-18 and has no symptoms of Covid-19 can also collect up to seven free rapid response lateral flow devices (LFDs) per household when they take their test.
These tests do not help track the variant first identified in South Africa, but are still useful in monitoring the spread of the virus, and stopping further infections.
Lambeth council has previously run enhanced testing in two areas in the borough after single cases of the variant first identified in South Africa were discovered.
This work has been completed and is not related to the new call for everyone in Lambeth to be tested.