Thousands of residents across Manchester will be tested for Covid-19 after a mutated strain of the virus was detected there.
In response to identifying the more transmissible Kent variant of the virus, some 10,000 extra tests are set to be rolled out in the region from Tuesday (9 Feb).
The Manchester City Council said that this comes after four people from two unconnected households were found to have been infected with the E484K mutation, which is linked to the Kent strain.
The move follows similar surges in testing in Worcestershire, Sefton, Merseyside, and areas in Bristol and south Gloucestershire, after variants were identified.
Additional testing sites will be implemented in order to enable anyone over the age of 16 who lives, works or studies in the affected areas to be tested.
The affected areas - and how testing will be carried out
These are the postcodes of the affected areas:
- M14 4
- M14 7
- M15 5
- M15 6
- M16 7
- M16 8
People living in these areas are strongly encouraged to take a Covid-19 test this week, whether they are showing symptoms or not.
People who are experiencing symptoms should go about booking a test in the usual way, via the Government website.
For those without symptoms, you can visit one of the extra testing sites, which can be found in Moss Side, Whalley Range, Fallowfield and Hulme areas.
Street teams will also be knocking on doors to invite those over 16 in the affected postcode areas to take a test.
Additionally, those without symptoms can visit a mobile testing unit.
Everyone in the designated areas will be given a PCR swab test, with the results taking a few days to come back.
The Manchester City Council says: “If someone has already had the vaccine, they should still take a test as this programme of testing is designed to understand how the new variant might have spread in the local community.”
If someone has had a negative PCR swab test within the last 90 days, they do not need to take another test.
‘Important to investigate new strains’
David Regan, public health director at Manchester City Council, said: “We all know that the virus will change over time and it’s important that we investigate new strains to understand how they might spread.
“This is exactly what we’re doing with the intensive testing in parts of Manchester, with local testing units and people going door-to-door to offer people tests.
“There is no evidence that this variant will be resistant to the vaccines or causes a more severe illness, and it is not yet known if the strain can be passed more easily between people. But it is really important that everyone who lives in the boundary area and is over the age of 16 plays their part and gets a test.
“The best thing we can all do is to keep following the rules - Hands, Face, Space - get a test if you have symptoms, and keep your vaccination appointment when you are called.”