COVID-19 testing is to be increased in two Birmingham wards in order to monitor and suppress the South African variant, Birmingham City Council has announced.

Extensive surveillance of COVID-19 has identified one case of the COVID-19 variant first discovered in South Africa within the Alum Rock and Glebe Farm & Tile Cross wards.

The council is working closely with Public Health England and NHS Test and Trace to support measures to curb any potential spread of this variant; this will include significantly increasing the testing offer in a targeted and intelligence-led way.

This targeted approach will contact certain households in the B8 postcode area in Birmingham.

Covid-19 testing station at City Hospital in BirminghamAdam Yosef
Covid-19 testing station at City Hospital in Birmingham

Residents over the age of 16 who are living or working Alum Rock and Glebe Farm & Tile Cross wards are strongly encouraged to take part in the door to door testing when offered, even if they are not showing symptoms.

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.

Testing will, in combination with measures such as hands-face-space-fresh air and following national guidance, help to suppress and control the spread of the virus, while enabling a better understanding of the variant.

Positive tests will be sequenced to identify any further spread, enabling a better understanding of the variant and identifying if there are any more cases in the area. If someone tests positive, they must self-isolate immediately and pass on details on their contacts to NHS Test and Trace.

Health officials have urged anyone with coronavirus symptoms to get a free NHS test to check if they have the virus.

COVID testing is to be increased in the Alum Rock and Glebe Farm & Tile Cross wardsAdam Yosef
COVID testing is to be increased in the Alum Rock and Glebe Farm & Tile Cross wards

Dr Justin Varney, Director of Public Health for Birmingham City Council, said:

“Testing is an important part of containing the spread of the virus. This new variant from South Africa presents a new risk so it is essential that all adults in the affected areas takes up this offer of PCR testing to help us contain the spread quickly and identify any further local cases.

“As surveillance improves we are identifying these variant cases more quickly and more effectively. This means we expect to see more surge testing areas over the coming weeks and months as we respond quickly to contain spread and identify any further cases.

“No connection have been identified between the cases in the different part of the city and no evidence yet of spread in the local community, but this is why the testing is so important.

“There is financial and practical support available for those who test positive and have to isolate and their contacts and it is vital we all play our part in controlling this new challenge.”


To find out more about surge testing in select Birmingham wards, click here.


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