Covid surge testing launched in Tower Hamlets after ‘several’ Brazil and South Africa variant cases discovered
Covid surge testing will take place in parts of east London this weekend after “several” new cases of the Brazilian and South African coronavirus variants were identified, the government has said.
Officials with Test and Trace and Tower Hamlets Council will carry out additional testing and genomic sequencing in targeted areas within the E1 postcode from Sunday, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said on Saturday.
All of the confirmed cases in Tower Hamlets are self-isolating and there are no known links between these cases and the cluster of cases recently identified in the south London area, the DHSC said.
Everyone aged 11 and over who lives, works or is educated in these postcodes is being encouraged to take a test when invited, whether they are showing symptoms or not, it said in a statement.
A spokesperson told The Independent that its announcement of surge testing in Tower Hamlets did not include plans for door-to-door testing.
According to Tower Hamlets Council’s website, where more specific details can be found, variants of concern have been identified in parts of E1, E2, E3 and E14 – with 10 sub-districts listed in total.
It remains unclear how many new cases in these areas have been identified, described as “a small number” by the council and as “several” by DHSC.
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It comes two weeks after Professor John Edmunds, epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, warned that parts of the capital could be subjected to local lockdown restrictions if new variants of continued to spread despite mass surge testing in the boroughs of Lambeth, Wandsworth, Southwark and Barnet.
“What we are looking at in south London is an example of what we’ll see now in the coming months, as we try our best to keep that variant out or at as low a level as we possibly can,” he told ITV’s Peston programme.
“If these mass testing events don’t work that well, and we don’t know yet, we’ll have to evaluate this one very carefully, then it’s possible that we’ll have to impose some sort of local restrictions back in place and nobody wants to do it.”