Tests for Covid-19 are set to ramp up in the West Midlands after it was confirmed that a case of the South African variant has been identified in Walsall

The case is not linked to international travel and the council is working with Public Health England to stop the spread

Home test kits will be issued and a mobile unit will be set up in the community

Health teams hope to add another 10Reaching 000 people, including those who received their vaccine

At a regional meeting on Monday in Walsall, only one case of the South African variant has so far been found. It is assumed that it is a positive test in December

Dr However, Justin Varney, Birmingham director of public health, said there are likely to be other cases in the West Midlands that have so far gone undetected

Two cases have also been found in Surrey, and testing will also take place in London, Kent, Hertfordshire and West Lancashire

Stephen Craddock, cabinet member for health and wellbeing at Walsall Council, said the person who tested positive in the community, a man, had no travel history, so the virus came through community transmission

Birchill’s Leamore, Blakenhall and Bloxwich East all fall into zip code WS2 and the council is carefully considering which areas to target, it added

Stephen Gunther, director of public health at Walsall, said there is currently no evidence that the variant causes a more severe disease or that vaccines would not protect against it, but research showed it could be more easily transmitted

Faith and other Walsall community leaders are asked to encourage anyone over the age of 16 who live or work in the WS2 zip code to get tested even if they have no symptoms

Currently in Walsall, 4809 out of 100000 people were killed in the week up to and including Tested positive for coronavirus on January 1st, one of the highest rates in England but the numbers show the infection rate is down 33% from the previous week

Nationwide, the cases caused by the variant were identified as part of the sample inspection by Public Health England. It is not known how many were identified in total

Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical officer for NHS Test and Trace, said a small number were unrelated to international travel and in response, testing was “ramping up” in certain areas

The variant now accounts for 90% of all infections in South Africa, said Dr Varney, adding that it was one of thousands of variants of Covid-19 discovered

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South African variant

World News – GB – South Africa variant: Covid tests were carried out in Walsall

Source: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-birmingham-55891121