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Testing For Covid-19 To Be Increased In West Midlands As South African Variant Identified

Alice Lorenzato-Lloyd Alice Lorenzato-Lloyd - Staff Writer

coronavirus testing swab test

Residents in the WS2 postcode area will be offered Covid-19 tests.

The government has announced that testing for Covid-19 is to be increased in the West Midlands after a case of the South African variant was identified and confirmed in Walsall. During today’s (February 1) coronavirus briefing, the Health Secretary named Walsall as one of the areas, alongside seven other postcode areas in England which have reported cases of this new variant.

Around 80,000 people in England will be offered tests as part of a mass testing system, including residents in the WS2 postcode area, for the South Africa coronavirus variant after cases with no links to travel were found. The metropolitan borough of Walsall, around nine miles north-west of Birmingham, will have a mobile unit set up in order to carry out testing as well as sending home testing kits for both those with and without symptoms of Covid-19.

Matt Hancock said in today’s Downing Street news conference that there was “currently no evidence” to suggest the South African variant was “any more severe, but we need to come down on it hard, and we will”.

Appealing to residents of these postcodes, the Health Secretary added: “It is imperative that you stay at home, and that you get a test, even if you don’t have symptoms. This is so important so that we can break the chains of the transmission of this new variant, and we’ve got to bring this virus to heel.”

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The neighbourhoods being targeted for testing are:

  • W7, N17 and CR4 in London
  • WS2 in Walsall
  • ME15 in Maidstone, Kent
  • PR9 in Southport
  • EN10 in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire
  • GU21 in Woking

The government also announced in the news conference that almost 9.3 million people in the UK have now received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, with almost 600,000 people being vaccinated in one day over the weekend.

Read more: The UK Has Closed All Travel Corridors To Help Control New Covid-19 Variant