Surge testing is being deployed in Redditch after a small number of cases of the South Africa variant were identified in parts of the town.

The confirmed cases have self-isolated and their contacts have been identified.

As a precaution, and in order to help Public Health Worcestershire better understand any potential infection, Public Health Worcestershire are working with Public Health England to carry out enhanced testing of everyone, including children in this area.

Everyone who lives, works or will be visiting some identified parts of Redditch and who does not have coronavirus symptoms is being asked to get a PCR test as soon as possible.

You can check if your postcode falls within the surge testing area by clicking here.

Enhanced contact tracing will be used for individuals testing positive with a variant of concern (VOC). This is where contact tracers look back over an extended period to determine the route of transmission.

By using PCR testing, positive results can be sent for genomic sequencing at specialist laboratories, helping us to identify variant of concern cases and their spread.

If you have symptoms you should book a free test online or by phone so you can be tested at a testing site or have a testing kit sent to your home. If you have no symptoms, you should visit the County Council’s website for more information.

NHS Test & Trace is working in partnership with the local councils to provide this additional testing and genomic sequencing.

Rachel said:

“I know the news of confirmed cases of the South African variant in Redditch will be concerning to my constituents, but it’s because of the testing capacity we now have that we can surge testing to local areas in order to contain outbreaks.

“I will continue to monitor the situation closely with my local government colleagues and public health officials. In the meantime, if you live or work in one of the targeted areas then please book a test. You can find out if your postcode is included by visiting: https://www.worcestershire.gov.uk/covid19variant.

“I also know my constituents will be concerned about the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines against new coronavirus variants. It’s important to say the vaccines being deployed right now across the UK appear to work well against the COVID-19 variants that are currently dominant in the UK. The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is still effective against severe disease, and an updated vaccine to tackle mutations is expected this autumn, which is encouraging news.”