South Africa Covid-19 variant: Worcestershire testing begins
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South Africa Covid-19 variant: Worcestershire testing begins

image captionResidents in the WR3 postcode and parts of WR9 are being asked to get tested

Testing for the South Africa variant of Covid-19 has begun in Worcestershire.

The county council has set up surge testing in the WR3 postcode, and some parts of WR9, after cases of the variant with no links to international travel were identified.

Councillor Tony Miller said the area being tested equated to about 6,000 people.

Mr Miller said only one positive case of the variant had so far been found in the area.

“We have done positive tracing and tracking of that person to who they have been in contact with and everybody who has been in contact is self isolating,” he said.

The testing site, he said, would initially be in place for a week, possibly two.

The South Africa variant, one of thousands since Covid-19 emerged, is not thought to be any more dangerous than others circulating in the UK but there are concerns it can spread more readily and vaccines may not work quite as well against it.

Cases that cannot be linked to international travel have prompted fears the variant is spreading in communities in England.

image captionTechnical problems caused some delays at the testing centre on Saturday

A mobile testing unit has been set up at The White Hart pub in Fernhill Heath, near Worcester, for adults with no symptoms living within walking distance.

But technical problems forced those booked for tests before 12:00 GMT on Saturday to rearrange, which Worcestershire County Council said had affected a quarter of bookings on the first day of testing.

A second testing site will open on Monday at Sixways stadium, also for residents from the identified postcodes, and only for people aged over 18 who have no symptoms.

The council said residents had so far responded “in their hundreds” to the request to get tested.

Dr Kathryn Cobain, the Director for Public Health in Worcestershire, said:” I want to thank the residents of these areas for answering our call to get tested, and for fully embracing this testing programme.

“It is fantastic to see so many residents wanting to do this.”

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