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Surge testing to begin after South African Covid variant found in Brent

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Emergency surge testing will be deployed in North Wembley after the South African Covid-19 variant was traced in the area.

The Department of Health and Social Care said today (March 4) that additional testing will be brought out in the North Wembley area of Brent – as well as a region in Durham – as part of an effort to suppress the spread of the variant.

People living in North Wembley are “strongly encouraged” to take a Covid-19 test when offered, whether they are showing symptoms or not.

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Every person over the age of 16 living in the area will be contacted.

This map shows if you live here, you need to be tested:

The department said: “The increased testing is being introduced in addition to existing extensive testing and, in combination with the public following current lockdown rules and Hands Free Space advice.

“Positive cases will be sequenced for genomic data to help increase our understanding of Covid-19 variants and their spread within these areas.

“Enhanced contact tracing will be used for individuals testing positive with a variant of concern. This is where contact tracers look back over an extended period in order to determine the route of transmission.”

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Where do I get tested?

Those without symptoms are being asked to get tested at:

Brent Civic Centre Testing Site (1st floor), Engineers Way, Wembley Park, HA9 0FJ. Opening hours: 8am-8pm. To book: visit the online booking page.

Those with symptoms are being asked to get tested at either:

Northwick Park Testing Site, Northwick Park Sports Pavilion, Capital Ring, HA1 3GX. Opening hours: 8am-12noon. To book: call 020 8937 4440 or book online at www.gov.uk/coronavirus.

Wembley Testing Site. Large Car Park, London Road, Wembley, HA9 7EU. Opening hours: 8am-8pm. To book: call 020 8937 4440 or book online at www.gov.uk/coronavirus.

Home testing kits will be delivered to a small number of addresses and letters have gone out to these households letting them know.

Any positive cases will be examined to determine which strain of the virus the person has been infected with. This will help to see how far – if at all – the South African variant has spread in the community and to enable better understanding of this variant.

Those who test positive may be able to claim a £500 payment if they are on a lower income and cannot go to work because they are self-isolating.

Dr Melanie Smith, Director of Public Health at Brent Council, said: “A case of the new South African variant of COVID-19 has been found in North Wembley and cannot be traced back to international travel.

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“We’re encouraging all those living in the enhanced testing area to get tested so we can see how far – if at all – the virus has spread.

“Not only will this enable us to find any more cases of the variant, but it may help us find more cases of Covid-19 in general, particularly from those not showing symptoms, and this will in turn help us reduce the spread of the virus in Brent.

“It doesn’t matter whether you have symptoms or not, please do the right thing and get tested to protect your family, friends and community.”

Professor Kevin Fenton, Regional Director at Public Health England London, 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 North Wembley. 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 guidance that is in place – 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”

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For more information, visit www.brent.gov.uk/enhancedtesting

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