The largest surge testing operation to date is now being deployed across Lambeth and Wandsworth after a ‘significant cluster’ of the COVID-19 South African variant was identified.
Forty-four confirmed cases and 30 probable cases have so far been identified in the two boroughs after the first positive result for the variant in the area was returned in early March this year.
Everyone aged eleven and over who lives, works or travels through the boroughs is ‘strongly encouraged’ to take a test even if they have no symptoms.
Lambeth and Wandsworth Councils and NHS Test and Trace have been conducting enhanced contract tracing to identify anyone who may have come into contact with positive cases, and say all people to have had the variant are either self isolating or have completed their quarantine.
There is also concern that vaccines are less effective against the South African variant; leaving those in clinically vulnerable groups at risk even if they have received their jabs.
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.
Dr Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Adviser for NHS Test and Trace said: “The cluster of cases of the variant first identified in South Africa found in parts of South London, predominantly the Lambeth and Wandsworth areas is significant.
“It’s really important people in the local area play their part in stopping any further spread within the local community.
“PCR testing is now available for all and I would strongly encourage everyone, whether they live, work or travel through the boroughs, to get tested even if they don’t have any symptoms of coronavirus.
“Around one in three people with COVID-19 don’t show any symptoms. By taking part you can protect yourselves and your loved ones and help us identify any possible new cases that would otherwise be missed, preventing further transmission and saving lives.”