Surge testing in Birmingham and Sandwell after South African Covid variant found in Smethwick

Credit: PA

Surge testing is being extended to Sandwell and Ladywood, Jewellery Quarter and Soho wards in Birmingham, the Department of Health have said.

It's after a case of the South Africa variant of Covid-19 was identified in Smethwick, where extra testing is already in place.

Those who live or work in the postcodes B66 3, B66 4 and B67 6 are strongly advised to get a PCR test, whether they are showing symptoms or not.

A stock photo of a man testing himself for Covid-19. Credit: PA

Sandwell Council say the person lives in the Soho and Victoria ward of Smethwick, and it is a single case, although their contacts are being tested.

Lisa McNally, Director of Public Health in Sandwell, said:

“There is no evidence at this stage that this case has any links to another case of the South African variant found in the Oldbury/Tipton area or any cases found in other neighbouring areas.

The case was identified in Smethwick and surge testing has now been extended outside the immediate area to include other Birmingham postcodes. Credit: Sandwell council

People aged 16 and over within specific streets are being asked to take a PCR Covid-19 swab test - regardless of whether they have been vaccinated, they are using rapid tests or if they have already had Covid-19.

People can go to Smethwick Council House without booking an appointment, unless they are driving there.

For those travelling by car, appointments for the Council House's drive-in testing service must be booked in advance.

Click here to check if you need to get tested and to book an appointment if you plan to drive.

Credit: Sandwell Council

The Director of Public Health confirmed there will be no extra restrictions put in place, and schools and workplaces in the area can continue to operate as normal.

Lisa McNally added that "this serves as a reminder that this pandemic has not gone away. We all need to remain vigilant in keeping 2 metres distance from others, wearing face coverings and washing our hands.”