Surge testing in Sandwell and Birmingham after confirmed case of South African variant

Additional Covid surge testing is underway in parts of Sandwell and Birmingham – after a confirmed case of the South African variant was discovered.

NHS Test and Trace is working with local authorities to provide additional testing and genomic sequencing in areas of Smethwick and Cape Hill, as well as Ladywood, Jewellery Quarter and Soho wards in Birmingham.

The testing will focus on a targeted area within B66 3, B66 4 and B67 6 postcode areas.

The confirmed case of the variant is self-isolating and their contacts have been identified.

Everybody aged 16 years and over who resides or works in these Sandwell and Birmingham postcodes is strongly encouraged to take a Covid-19 PCR test, whether they are showing symptoms or not.

Enhanced contact tracing will be used for individuals testing positive with a variant of concern. This is where contact tracers look back over an extended period in order to determine the route of transmission.

By using PCR testing, positive results can be sent for genomic sequencing at specialist laboratories, helping to identify variant of concern cases and their spread.

People with symptoms should book a free test online or by phone so they can get tested at a testing site or have a testing kit sent to them at home. Those without symptoms should visit their local authority websites – Sandwell and Birmingham councils – for more information.

People in this areas should continue using twice-weekly rapid testing alongside the PCR test as part of surge testing.

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