Surge testing starts in Birmingham after South African Covid-19 variant discovered

21 April 2021, 19:11 | Updated: 21 April 2021, 20:43

Further surge testing is to take place in Birmingham after a case of the South Africa Covid variant was found
Further surge testing is to take place in Birmingham after a case of the South Africa Covid variant was found. Picture: PA

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Surge testing is to begin in a second area of Birmingham after a case of the South African Covid-19 variant was discovered.

The confirmed case has "self-isolated and their contacts have been identified", the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said.

Health officials added: "Initial investigations indicate that this case is not linked to a case previously identified in the Birmingham and Sandwell areas."

The testing will be targeted at households in the city's Alum Rock, Glebe Farm and Tile Cross areas.

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Last week, surge testing was introduced in the Ladywood, Jewellery Quarter and Soho wards after a single positive case of the variant.

It follows the largest surge testing operation to date in South London after dozens of cases of the variant were detected there.

On Wednesday, 2,396 more lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases were confirmed in the UK.

The Government also said a further 22 people had died within 28 days of testing positive, bringing the UK total to 127,327.

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Government data up to April 20 shows a rise of 107,622 first vaccine doses on the previous day, bringing the total to 33,139,742.

A total of 10,775,817 second doses have also now been given, up by 350,027.

The DHSC said that everybody aged 16 years and over who is contacted from the new Birmingham areas would be "strongly encouraged to take a Covid-19 PCR test", whether or not they are symptomatic.

For anyone testing positive for a variant, enhanced contact tracing - looking back over an extended period in order to determine the route of transmission - will be used.

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Anyone with symptoms is urged to book a free test online or by phone.

Residents are advised to continue using twice-weekly rapid testing alongside the PCR test as part of surge-testing.

Speaking at the time, the city's public health director Dr Justin Varney said: "Testing is an important part of containing the spread of the virus.

"This new variant from South Africa presents a new risk so it is essential that all adults in the affected areas take up this offer of PCR testing to help us contain the spread quickly and identify any further local cases.

"There is financial and practical support available for those who test positive and have to isolate, and their contacts, and it is vital we all play our part in controlling this new challenge."