Preparations to expand ‘surge’ testing for the South African variant of the COVID-19 virus in Southport have continued over the weekend.
On Saturday, Sefton Council announced that the testing for the variant would also cover parts of the Cambridge and Dukes wards. Since then the Council has been making arrangements for further, dedicated Mobile Testing Units and the distribution of home testing kits across the affected area.
The Council is urging everyone aged 16 and over in the target areas to take the one-time test and if they test positive, to self-isolate to stop the spread of the virus.
Margaret Jones, Sefton Council’s Director of Public Health said: “After being advised a second, historic and unrelated case the South African variant had been found, we have been hastily pulling together plans to introduce testing arrangements for people living and working in the affected areas of the Cambridge and Dukes wards.
“Delivery of home testing kits is starting in the next few days, initially in town centre areas, and a site for a Mobile Testing Unit for people who don’t have coronavirus symptoms, is being finalised.”
Over the weekend, efforts continued in the Norwood ward, where thousands of people have now taken a home test or visited the Mobile Testing Unit at the former Kew park-and-ride site.
To help you take a swab, the NHS has made step-by step guidance videos:
Sefton Council has been reminding people in the target areas for the South African variant that they need to continue protecting themselves and others by sticking to the national lockdown regulations and staying home.
Mrs Jones said: “People should only be going out for essential purposes such as shopping for essential supplies, going to work if we can’t do so from home, providing care and their daily exercise.
“Those in the variant testing areas wanting to get tested at a Mobile Testing Unit may be able to call in during their daily walk.”
“When they are out, people should keep to 2-metres’ distancing, wear a mask or face covering while out and wash their hands frequently.”
At the moment, there is no evidence to suggest that the South African variant is any more severe than others. However, questions have been raised about how effective the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is against it.
Responding to these comments, Mrs Jones said: “The vaccines being rolled out in the UK have been shown to work well against dominant variants so I would urge anyone who lives or works in the Borough who is offered a COVID-19 vaccination to take up the opportunity and go along for their jab and benefit from the protection it will provide.”