Sefton Council has confirmed that the testing area to locate the South African COVID-19 variant is being widened beyond Southport’s Norwood ward.
As a result of a second case of the variant that has not been linked to the first’ being picked up through the regular PCR procedure, targeted testing is being extended to cover parts of the Cambridge and Dukes ward areas in Southport. The second case has been picked up through the random sequencing of previous positive tests.
Sefton Council Leader Cllr Ian Maher said: “This not a case of the COVID variant being identified through the dedicated ‘surge’ testing we have started this week. It appears to be an unconnected, historic case that has been picked up through somebody developing coronavirus symptoms and booking a PCR test as they should have done at one of the existing test sites.
“Nationally, a percentage of all PCR tests are randomly tested to identify variants of the virus and this is how the second local case was picked up. On being informed of that second case, we were advised to increase the targeted testing area.
“Nationally, a percentage of all PCR tests are randomly tested for variants as well as for the presence of the virus and this is how the second local case was picked up. On being informed of that second case, we were advised to increase the targeted testing area.
“So far I have been pleased to see how positive local residents and businesses in the Norwood area have reacted to the news about the South African variant by willingly participating in this important testing programme. I am confident people in the two new wards identified will work with us to help prevent its spread in the same way.”
Additional Mobile Testing Units will be set up in the new target areas, in which there is a population of around 9,000 residents and approximately 12,000 additional properties, including. And the delivery and collection of home testing kits will be rolled out across the new areas.
Local people will be informed about the testing and when it due to start.
Margaret Jones, Sefton Council’s Director of Public Health said: “Once the dedicated testing measures are in place, we will be encouraging everyone aged over 16 within it the areas affected to get a test.
“But, like last week we won’t be asking anyone in Sefton, within the target areas or outside them to do anything else any different.
“We all need to continue protecting ourselves and others by sticking to the national lockdown regulations and staying home except for essential purposes such as shopping for essential supplies, going to work if we can’t do so from home, providing care and going for a coronavirus test if we need one.
“And, maintaining at least 2-metres’ distancing, wearing a mask or face covering while out and about and washing our hands frequently are all essential when we do have to go out.”
Testing in the Norwood ward, which started on Wednesday will continue over the weekend.
From Saturday 6th February, the opening hours of the Mobile Test Units set up in Southport’s Norwood ward area extended to 8am to 6.30pm. Located at the former Kew park -and-ride site, the Units were rapidly set up, and opened on Wednesday, as part of national measures to identify and stamp out the South African variant of the COVID-19 virus.
In addition to the Mobile Test Units, a team of up to 50 will be delivering home testing kits to households and businesses in the affected area. Where possible, they will wait while people test themselves. then deliver the swabs to a collection area.
Team members include Council staff, Merseyside Fire and Police officers, and members of Sefton Voluntary Services. All of them will carry clear identification, they will not ask for any money or request anyone’s financial details. Neither will they enter people’s homes.
To help you take a swab, the NHS has made step-by step guidance videos:
Sefton Council is reminding people living and working across the Borough that whatever kind of coronavirus test they take, if they get a positive result for the COVID-19 virus, they need to self-isolate. The Council has published 10 useful tips for 10 days of isolation on its website at www.sefton.gov.uk/self-isolation.
Subjects covered include financial support available, planning food and shopping deliveries, medical contacts and advice, caring for others and looking after your physical and mental wellbeing. Arrangements for pet care, stopping the spread of the virus at home and pharmacy deliveries are also included.