Full report from ITV News Meridian's Sally Simmonds
Rapid Covid tests will be carried out door-to-door in Southampton and Bramley, near Basingstoke, after the South African variant of the virus was identified in positive tests.
It is part of plans to reach out to around 80,000 residents directly in parts of Hampshire, Surrey, Kent and further afield in a bid to curb the variant’s spread.
Together with NHS Test and Trace, Southampton City Council is asking every person aged 16 or over living in the SO15 5 postcode area to take a Covid-19 test this week, even if they are not showing symptoms.
As part of the exercise, a Mobile Testing Unit will be deployed with testing kits delivered on Thursday 18 February.
Dr Debbie Chase, Director of Public Health at Southampton City Council said: "Contact tracing of the individual has taken place and I would like to reassure people that there is no cause for alarm.
"However, it is important that people aged 16 or over in the identified area take a Covid-19 test as directed. While essential travel to work, school, and shopping can still take place in line with government guidance, I would urge everyone in the identified area, and indeed across the city, to stay at home where possible, limit your contact with others, and follow the hands, face, space guidance.”
Rapid coronavirus testing is underway in Bramley in Hampshire after a case of the South African variant of the virus was identified in the area.
Staff from Hampshire County Council and Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council have been visiting residents and handing out testing kits to around 2,000 homes over the next two days.
Local rapid testing programme in the Bramley area is expected to last through until Friday.
Simon Bryant, Director of Public Health for Hampshire County Council says residents will get their results in less than 48 hours:
Bramley resident: "I've taken three or four before so it doesn't bother me"
Local resident Colin Alderman was out on his daily walk when he saw the testing unit. He enquired as to what was going on: "So once I'd realised what was happening I thought I might as well get it done whilst I could".
Local resident Colin Alderman on the importance of testing
Dr Alison Barnett, regional director at Public Health England South East, said: “The UK has one of the best genomic systems in the world which has allowed us to detect the variant originating in South Africa here in Surrey.“I urge everyone offered a test to take it up to help us to monitor the virus in our communities and to help suppress and control the spread of this variant.
“The most important thing is that people continue to follow the guidance that is in place – limit your number of contacts, wash your hands regularly and thoroughly, keep your distance and cover your face. If you test positive by any method, you must isolate to stop the spread of the virus.”