Surge testing hits Essex town after South African Covid variant found in area

SURGE testing will be deployed in another British town following the discovery of the South Africa coronavirus variant.

Brentwood, in Essex, will have additional testing made available after a single case of the strain was identified today.

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Anyone living within the CM13 postcode area is encouraged to take a test when offered, regardless of whether they have symptoms.

Infections have fallen sharply in Brentwood, which now has a case rate of 79 cases per 100,000 people in the week up to February 15, according to government data.

Prior to the third lockdown, the area had one of Britain's highest infection rates with a staggering 1,107 cases per 100,000 people in the week ending December 21.

Surge testing has been put in place in certain areas in the UK to monitor the spread of the new variants.

Last week, the Government announced surge testing in spots in Manchester, Norfolk, Southampton and Surrey.

Positive cases will be sequenced for genomic data to help understandĀ Covid-19Ā variants and their spread within those areas.

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It comes despite Matt Hancock assuring Brits this morning that cases of the variant were falling across the UK.

TheĀ Health Secretary said there was evidence that the stricter measures – including contact tracing and stricter border measures – had slowed the spread of the new strains.

Speaking to Sophy Ridge on Sunday, he said: "We've now got a much stronger vigilance in place, because everybody coming into the country has to be tested and we sequence the results of those tests.

"And we've also got a very strong set of actions working with the local authorities very specifically in the areas where a new variant is found.

"We hit it hard and send in enhanced contact-tracing and go door-to-door.

"We've now got this programme in place to be able to really, really try to stamp out a new variant where we see it. There is evidence that is working."

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