Worcestershire residents have responded in their hundreds, to a request for people in certain postcodes to be tested for a new variant of Covid-19

A very small number of cases of the South African variant of the virus have been detected in the WR3 postcode area and residents with this postcode and some with WR9 postcodes are being asked to get a test to try to prevent the spread of the virus. 

A testing site has been set up at The White Hart Pub in Fernhill Heath and has already begun testing residents. By yesterday ( Friday 5th February) evening, booking slots were already full for today. The site encountered some difficulties this morning with the mobile test unit, and this has led to a delayed start and some residents having their appointments cancelled. Some residents will also have their bookings cancelled over the next 3 days, to allow the site to get up to capacity and open fully early next week. 

Further support has been requested from the NHS Test and Trace system, and to ensure residents are not queuing at the site, the booking system has been closed temporarily. It will be open again for bookings on Monday. 

A second testing site will open on Monday at Sixways stadium. This is also for residents of the identified postcodes, and only for people who have no symptoms and who are over 18 years old. Some residents who have already booked here may also have their appointments cancelled and will need to re-book for a later date. 
Anyone who has booked at either site, and not received a cancellation notice should attend their appointments. Please take your booking email with you to your appointment.

The postcode checker and booking link is available on the Worcestershire County Council website

The Director for Public Health in Worcestershire, Dr. Kathryn Cobain said;” I want to thank the residents of these areas for answering our call to get tested, and for fully embracing this testing programme. It is designed to help us stop the spread of the South African variant. Testing allows us to identify people who may not even know they have it, so that they can quickly self-isolate and keep others safe from the virus. It is fantastic to see so many residents wanting to do this. Like any complex and multi-agency system, we have had some teething problems, and we apologise to anyone affected by these. We have requested further support which will be available to us shortly, and our teams are working round the clock to ensure the testing available is fully open by early next week. To reassure everyone, I should also add that testing is going to be available for two weeks, so there will be plenty of time to book and be tested over the coming days. We thank everyone for their patience and for working with us on keeping Worcestershire safe. “  

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. 

The sites at Sixways and Fernhill Heath can be booked from Monday by visiting: https://www.worcestershire.gov.uk/COVID19variant