People aged 16 and over, living or working within the CM13 postcode in Brentwood are being asked to get a Covid-19 test as soon as possible, whether they have symptoms or not - latest Information can be found here.
The advice from Public Health England follows confirmation of an isolated case of the South African Covid-19 variant in this specific location not linked to international travel. The case has prompted a move to ‘surge’ testing in the area. Surge testing has been deployed in other areas of the country following confirmed cases of the South African variant. Essex County Council is currently working with NHS Test and Trace and Brentwood Borough Council to increase local testing capacity in the area.
The aim is to understand what, if any, spread of the new variant within the local community may have occurred and limit the opportunity for any further spread. Robust contact tracing has taken place following identification of the isolated case.
From Monday 22 February, any individual aged 16 or over who lives or works within the identified postcode area will be contacted by letter to explain how and where they can get a Covid-19 test. This includes Mobile Testing Units* (MTU) in the area and a pick-up and drop-off service. Young people aged 16-18 attending a Mobile Testing Unit site must be accompanied by a guardian, according to national testing guidance.
Any residents in this area who are unable to attend a test site in person will be contacted and arrangements will be made to deliver a test to them at home. If an individual has already had a PCR test (not a Lateral Flow Test) in the last 90 days, they do not need to take a test as part of this surge testing approach.
If an individual tests positive, has any symptoms, or is contact traced following contact with someone who tests positive, they should self-isolate immediately. If they test negative, it is vital they continue to follow Covid-19 guidance around hands, face and space.
Dr Mike Gogarty, Essex County Council’s Director of Public Health, said:
Testing is an integral part of our Covid-19 response in Essex, It is vital that anyone over 16 and living or working in this area gets tested so we can better understand and suppress any further spread of the South African variant. “We know this variant is highly transmissible and so it is important to break the chain of transmission as quickly as possible, which is the aim of surge testing. The quickest way of doing this is for individuals who test positive to self-isolate immediately.
Do not be alarmed, but even if you are feeling well, I would urge everyone to play their part to keep their community safe. If you are contacted please book a Covid-19 test as soon as possible.”
Cllr John Spence, Essex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Adults and Health, said:
I am very keen that residents of Brentwood do not feel alarmed or concerned about the rolling out of surge testing. This approach is part of a national routine response to the emergence of new variants that cannot be linked to foreign travel or contact with people who have been abroad. This is a very much a precautionary measure which has been carried out in other areas of the country. It will provide us with valuable insights about any potential spread of this particular variant and help us to suppress it.
For Information on the Local Vaccine Rollout, please see here.
Notes to editors: *Residents within the target area will need to book a test at a MTU via the national system - www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test. They will receive details on how to do so via letter. Same day booking is available online until 3pm each day. Bookings for the following day open at 8pm each day.