Surge testing deployed in more London areas as South Africa variant found

14 April 2021, 15:26 | Updated: 14 April 2021, 18:33

People living and working in an area Barnet, north London, are being urged to get a Covid-19 test
People living and working in an area Barnet, north London, are being urged to get a Covid-19 test. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Swathes of areas on London are now having surge Covid-19 after cases of the South African were found.

Those in the N3 postcode area in Barnet are being asked to get a test either at home or go to a mobile testing unit.

Barnet Council said teams of officials will go door-to-door in areas in area to deliver PCR test kits, and a mobile testing unit will be set up in the car park of Finchley Central Station.

A statement on the council's website said: "The South African variant of Covid-19 has been found in Barnet.

"From Thursday 15 April we will start testing people for this variant in specific postcode areas affected in N3 or those who shop on the local high street."

Downing Street has insisted the outbreak is being taken "very seriously" and "strong measures" have been put in place to prevent it spreading.

The BBC reported that the outbreak appears to have been triggered by an individual who travelled from Africa in February.

According to documents seen by the broadcaster, the country involved was not on the red list for mandatory hotel quarantine at that time, but is now.

It comes after the biggest surge testing yet was deployed in Wandsworth and Lambeth in south London after over 44 cases of the South African variant were found.

Anybody aged 11 or over who lives, works or travels in that area of South London has been strongly encouraged to take a COVID-19 PCR test regardless of if they are showing symptoms.

The move comes as officials found a further 30 probable cases and all identified cases are either isolating or have completed their isolation.

Contacts of those cases have also been asked to isolate.

The variant has concerned experts, who fear vaccines could be less effective against it.

Read more: Pfizer vaccine 'shows 100% protection against South African variant'

An official release said: "This is the largest surge testing operation to date and aims to help control and suppress any possible new cases of the COVID-19 variant first identified in South Africa."

More to follow...