Tests show ‘no spread’ of Covid variant in Lambeth

    open air covid test site
    Covid test site in Brockwell Park

    Preliminary findings from local “surge” testing for a Covid variant indicate no spread of it locally, Lambeth council said today (28 April).

    More than 70,000 Covid tests were registered by people over 11 years old in Lambeth between 12 April and yesterday when surge testing ended.

    Of these tests, 0.2 per cent were positive.

    The PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing was conducted because of the discovery of a cluster of local cases of the Covid variant first identified in South Africa.

    Unlike 30-minute lateral flow tests, PCR tests enable scientists to determine the Covid variant in a positive test.

    The total population of Lambeth is estimated at about 328,250 and approximately 15% of these people are below 11 years old – leaving a target group of about 279,000, meaning around one in four of these was tested.

    Lambeth council said it is “grateful for the incredible response from the large numbers of residents, businesses, schools and faith groups who took part”.

    The council worked in partnership with Public Health England and NHS Test and Trace to do the tests.

    “Every positive case identified through testing is another person who can self-isolate, and another set of contacts traced,” the council said.

    “Every positive case found can help break chains of transmission and suppress the virus in the community.”

    Ruth Hutt, Lambeth’s director of public health, said: “We thank everyone who took part in this enhanced testing, and the preliminary findings indicate no spread of the variant locally.

    “We know many people have gone out of their way to get tested, often waiting patiently in line to have a PCR swab. It is hugely appreciated.

    “Our communities have demonstrated a real unity and commitment here for which we are hugely grateful.

    “We will share the full results from this surge in testing when we have received sequencing results for all positive samples which can be successfully analysed.”

    For people who do 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.

    The council said all positive Covid-19 samples with a high enough viral load from testing in the borough will continue to be sent for genomic sequencing.

    “If any variant of concern cases are identified, the local health protection team will be immediately notified so they can deliver an enhanced public health response,” it added.

    The council said all residents should continue to get regular rapid symptom-free tests.

    Routine rapid testing is available to everyone through:

    • home testing
    • workplace testing
    • community testing
    • collection from test sites during specific collection windows
    • testing on-site at schools and colleges 
    • collection from participating pharmacies.

    For more information visit the council website

    Although the main operation has ended, people can continue to return test kits, and on-site PCR Covid-19 testing in some capacity will continue to operate through the week, but on a smaller scale.

    Residents can drop off PCR test kits for analysis after today at:

    • Lambeth Town Hall, Brixton
    • Streatham Library, Streatham
    • St John’s Church, Waterloo
    • Brockwell Park, near Brockwell Hall

    People living and working in Lambeth can continue to have on-site PCR Covid-19 tests at one of four NHS sites that will remain open through the week depending on demand. They are at:

    • Clapham Common, Windmill Drive, near the playground – SW4 9DE, 9am to 5pm every day 
    • Stockwell, Next to Stockwell War Memorial, South Lambeth Road – SW8 1UG, 9am to 3pm every day
    • Jubilee Gardens, Belvedere Road, South Bank, – SE1 7AF, 9am to 3pm every day
    • Windrush Square, Brixton – SW2 1JQ, 9am to 3pm every day

    Home PCR test kits cannot be picked up or dropped off at these sites.

    More information on the council website

    If you have coronavirus symptoms, you should book a test at nhs.uk/coronavirus, via the NHS Covid-19 app or call 119.