Every adult in the WR3 and WR9 areas of Worcestershire has been advised to get a COVID-19 test, even if they aren’t displaying symptoms, as concerns grow after a small number of cases of the South African variant of COVID-19 were discovered in the area. These cases are believed to be from people that haven’t travelled to or from South Africa.

Worcestershire County Council said:

Surge testing to be deployed to control spread of COVID-19 Variant in Worcestershire

Extensive surveillance of Covid-19 has identified a small number of cases of the Covid-19 variant first discovered in South Africa, in localities across England, including the WR3 area of Worcestershire.

These cases cannot be traced back to international travel.

All cases are now self-isolating and robust contact tracing has taken place to trace their contacts and ask them to self-isolate.

Working in partnership with NHS Test and Trace, every person, over the age of 18, living in the WR3 postcode and some WR9 postcodes, is strongly encouraged to take a Covid-19 test this week, even if they are not showing symptoms. To find out if your postcode is included in this testing and for more information please visit the COVID 19 variant pages of the County Council website

Mobile Testing Units (MTUs) will be deployed from Saturday 6th February offering PCR testing and local people are invited to be tested. Home testing kits will also be provided across the affected areas.  

The first of these testing sites is at The White Hart Pub on Droitwich road in Fernhill Heath. It will be open from 8am -4pm from Saturday 6th February. Testing is available to anyone over 18 years, who lives within walking distance of the pub and who has no symptoms. There is no car parking at the site, so only use this testing site if you live within Fernhill Heath or safe walking distance. If this site is not available to you, please wait for the drive through testing site planned for later in the week or the door to door testing that will become available.

To use the centre please book online using the book a test pages of the County Council website

You will need to show a booking confirmation email to attend the test centre for your test.  

Anyone who has symptoms should not attend this centre and should book online in the normal way; please visit the Book a Coronavirus test pages of the Gov.UK website

There is currently no evidence to suggest this variant is more serious than others, or that the regulated vaccine would not protect against it. 

Testing will, in combination with measures such as hands-face-space and lockdown measures, help to suppress and control the spread of the virus, while enabling a better understanding of the new variant. 

Positive tests will be sequenced to identify any further spread of the new variant first discovered in South Africa, enabling a better understanding of the variant and identifying if there are any more cases of this particular strand of the virus in the area.

If someone tests positive, they must self-isolate immediately and pass on details on their contacts to NHS Test and Trace.

Dr Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Advisor for NHS Test and Trace said: “As part of our proactive sequencing work, we know that the new variant of Covid-19, first detected in South Africa, has been identified in a number of areas across England. A small proportion of these cases have no link to international travel suggesting that there are some cases in the community.

“In response to this, we are ramping up testing in targeted areas, so we can gather more information and effectively monitor any further community transmission.”

Dr Kathryn Cobain, Director for Public Health in Worcestershire said:

“The UK has one of the best genomic systems in the world which has allowed us to detect the variant originating in South Africa here in Worcestershire. I urge everyone offered a test to take it up to help us to monitor the virus in our communities and to help suppress and control the spread of this variant.

“The most important thing to do is self-isolate if you have symptoms, this stops you spreading the virus and will help us reduce the spread of this variant. Please limit your number of contacts, wash your hands regularly and thoroughly, keep your distance and cover your face. Please take advantage of the testing being offered.”

A postcode checker is available on  the COVID 19 variant pages of the County Council website