Mass testing finishes in WS2 with no new cases of South African Variant

Mass testing in an area of Walsall where a positive case of the South African Covid variant was found has finished with no more cases identified.

Councillor Stephen Craddock at one of the drive through test centres previously set up at Walsall Arena and Arts Centre, the former Forest arts centre, Hawbush Road
Councillor Stephen Craddock at one of the drive through test centres previously set up at Walsall Arena and Arts Centre, the former Forest arts centre, Hawbush Road

Door-to-door testing is now set to begin in Pleck, where a case of the variant was confirmed last week, but the mass testing in WS2 has now finished.

The Pleck case is the second time the variant has been found in Walsall and is not linked to the WS2 case or to international travel.

Thus further targeted testing is getting underway, concentrated on specific parts of the Pleck area, in a bid to track any further cases.

Councillor Stephen Craddock, Walsall Council’s portfolio holder for health and wellbeing, said: "We finished testing in WS2 yesterday and we're testing in Pleck tomorrow. It will only be door-to-door.

"We're targeting less households in that area, were just trying to work out the exact geography, it's quite substantially less than before.

"People don't need to do anything, they will just get a knock on the door.

"The postcode checker is live on the council's website so people can check if they are included in the testing programme.

"We did have some hiccups in the WS2 area which we've resolved. The cases of delivering used kits were pretty awful but this should make sure it doesn't happen.

"The person in Pleck isolated back in January and are well. They're fine that's all we know.

"It was only over the weekend we were told we didn't have any more cases in WS2 area. I was on a regional call this morning and they said they have found no additional cases in any of the surge testing. So it may not be as contagious as we first thought but we will continue to track it down."

South African variant tracked across region

A new case was confirmed on Thursday in Stafford, while cases have been identified in the Northfield area of Birmingham and Worcestershire.

Three new Covid community testing centres have opened their doors in Staffordshire today – after the first case of the South African variant was identified.

The centres in Gnosall, Stone and Eccleshall, together with the Kingston Centre in Stafford, will allow more people to get tested and help stop the spread of the variant.

Since the call went out for everyone who works or lives in the borough to get tested, more than 1,300 people were tested over the weekend and more than 3,500 have already booked a test this week.

Dr Johnny McMahon, Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for health, care and wellbeing, said: “We continue to have a fantastic response and our message to people who live or work in the borough is to book a test if they haven’t already.

“We now have four community testing centres open and want to test as many people as possible over the next four weeks. This will help us identify any further cases of this more contagious variant and in turn help break the chain of infection.”

The community testing centres for people with no symptoms are open seven days a week and are at The Kingston Centre, Stafford, The Grosvenor Centre, Gnosall, Stone Leisure Centre and Eccleshall Community Centre.

The county council already offers community Covid testing for people across the county who need to be out during lockdown and has increased the capacity in the Stafford borough area after it was found that a resident tested positive for the variant earlier this year.

Patrick Farrington, Leader of Stafford Borough Council, said: "As a council, we are committed to doing everything we can to protect both lives and livelihoods.

“This means everyone in the borough staying at home as much as possible, sticking to the rules and getting tested to help us control the spread of infection.

“With four community testing centres open across the borough getting tested has never been easier, and may just help protect the life of someone you care for.”

Meanwhile one family was left upset when the swab they were sent to test themselves with turned out to have already been used by someone else in Walsall.

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