'Incredible' local response to surge testing in Bristol and South Gloucestershire say health bosses

Surge testing centre in Bristol
Credit: ITV News

More than 15,000 Covid tests have been carried out or collected for home testing across Bristol and South Gloucestershire since the community surge testing programme started on Sunday 7 February.

People living or working in one of 24 specific postcodes have been invited to get a test as part of an investigation to help establish the prevalence of the Bristol variant.

Dr Susan Hopkins, Public Health England’s strategic response director, has confirmed that the number of cases of the variant in Bristol and South Gloucestershire currently stands at 14.

The variant has been classed as a “variant of concern” after it was discovered that changes in the Bristol mutation are shared by those in the South African variant.

Dings Crusaders RFC ground is now a surge testing centre. Credit: ITV News

Sara Blackmore, Director of Public Health at South Gloucestershire Council, said: “The response to our community surge testing programme has been nothing short of incredible.

"We wish to thank all those residents who have taken the time to attend a testing site or Collect and Drop location, often in bitterly cold conditions.

“The tests will help Public Health scientists to better understand what is happening as the virus changes, and to make sure that the vaccines remain effective in protecting us all.

"Their work so far indicates that the growth rate of this form of the virus is relatively small, but we are only into day four of our two-week programme.

"We expect case numbers to increase but are confident that if everyone continues to follow public health guidance and national lockdown rules the number of new cases can be kept at a minimum.”

Residents with no COVID-19 symptoms who are over the age of 16 and live or travel to one of the 24 identified postcode sectors for work or to visit someone in their support bubble are eligible for a test.

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