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‘Targeted’ testing in Southwark after case of South African variant discovered

Nicholas Cecil and Ross Lydall
·4-min read
A worker dressed in PPE talks with members of the public arriving to take Covid-19 tests at a mobile testing centre in Brockwell Park (AFP via Getty Images)
A worker dressed in PPE talks with members of the public arriving to take Covid-19 tests at a mobile testing centre in Brockwell Park (AFP via Getty Images)

Extra surge testing is to take place in a third London borough after a case of the Covid-19 South African variant was found, Sadiq Khan said today.

Residents in a “targeted area” within the SE16 postcode in Southwark are being urged to get tested.

Additional testing sites, some of them mobile, are also being rolled out in Wandsworth and Lambeth where dozens of cases of the mutated virus, which may be more resistant to vaccines, have been identified.

Mayor of London Mr Khan, said: “Additional testing will be taking place in a targeted area within SE16 in Southwark after a confirmed case of the COVID-19 variant first discovered in South Africa was found.

“It’s vital that all those who are asked to take a PCR test in this area do so, regardless of whether they have symptoms or not.

“This testing is essential to help monitor and suppress the spread of the virus, so I urge everyone contacted in this area and all those living and working in Wandsworth and in Lambeth to book their tests as soon as possible.”

The SA variant case was detected in the Rotherhithe ward and Southwark Council is working closely with Public Health England to try to limit any potential spread of the disease.

Covid-19 tests are being delivered to properties in the immediate area and residents in those homes are being asked to take a test.

AFP via Getty Images
AFP via Getty Images

Residents can also collect and drop off a Home Testing kit from Canada Water Library Theatre (21 Surrey Quays Rd, SE16 7AR) between 9am and 5pm every day.

A temporary testing site is being opened at Deal Porter Square next to Canada Water Library today.

It will be open seven days a week from 9am to 3pm.

As the surge testing got underway, Sangeeta Leahy, Director of Public Health at Southwark Council, said: “We understand that this could be concerning news, but there is no cause for alarm.

“We are delivering Covid-19 tests to residents in a defined area so that we identify how far, if at all, the variant has spread. “This variant of Covid-19 may be more easily passed between people, so please take a test if we ask you to by letter. As businesses and venues start to re-open, it is also important that we all continue to follow the current rules on social distancing and meeting with people from outside our household.”

Tests are being delivered to the following postcodes:

SE16 1AT, SE16 1JA, SE16 1JL, SE16 1PJ, SE16 2BX, SE16 2XB, SE16 2XE, SE16 2XU, SE16 4AB, SE16 4AD, SE16 4HL, SE16 4HT, SE16 4HW, SE16 4HY, SE16 4HZ, SE16 4JA, SE16 4JB, SE16 4JD, SE16 4JE, SE16 4JF, SE16 4JG, SE16 4JH, SE16 4JJ, SE16 4JL, SE16 4JN, SE16 4JP, SE16 4JQ, SE16 4JR, SE16 4JX, SE16 4LA, SE16 4LD, SE16 4LE, SE16 4LF, SE16 4LG, SE16 4LH, SE16 4LJ, SE16 4LL, SE16 4LQ, SE16 4NF, SE16 4NG, SE16 4NH, SE16 4NJ, SE16 4NL, SE16 4NQ, SE16 7AU, SE16 7AX, SE16 7AY, SE16 7AZ, SE16 7BA, SE16 7BB, SE16 7BD, SE16 7BE, SE16 7BG, SE16 7BH, SE16 7BJ, SE16 7BL, SE16 7BN, SE16 7BQ, SE16 7BS, SE16 7BU, SE16 7BW, SE16 7BX, SE16 7BY, SE16 7BZ, SE16 7DL, SE16 7DT, SE16 7DX, SE16 7DY, SE16 7DZ, SE16 7EA, SE16 7EB, SE16 7ED, SE16 7EE, SE16 7EF, SE16 7HA, SE16 7HS, SE16 7HY, SE16 7HZ, SE16 7JA, SE16 7JB, SE16 7JD, SE16 7JE, SE16 7JF, SE16 7JH, SE16 7JJ, SE16 7JL, SE16 7JN, SE16 7JP, SE16 7JQ, SE16 7JR, SE16 7JS, SE16 7JT, SE16 7JU, SE16 7JW, SE16 7JX, SE16 7JY, SE16 7JZ, SE16 7LN, SE16 7NJ

Meanwhile, a leading scientist advising the Government is warning that rapid spread of coronavirus variants could necessitate the reimposition of lockdown measures.

Professor Peter Openshaw said his fellow scientists were “very concerned” after the cluster of cases of the South African coronavirus variant were found in London.

Some 44 confirmed cases of the variant have been found in Lambeth and Wandsworth, with a further 30 probable cases identified, the Department of Health and Social Care said.

Prof Openshaw, a member of the Covid-19 clinical information network, told BBC2’s Newsnight: “A lot of we scientists are very concerned about what’s happening at the moment.

“I think we’re all just hoping that the staged reduction in lockdown is going to be ok. It is being done reasonably cautiously but I think this is not good news.

“If we get rapid spread of the South African or other more resistant variants, it may well be that we are going to have to put the reductions of lockdown into reverse.”

According to Government figures, there have been 533 genomically confirmed cases of the South African variant in the UK and another 11 probable cases.

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