New coronavirus variant found in Tottenham Hale

Testing scaled up in response to South African Covid variant 

By Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

Testing is being scaled up after cases of a more infectious strain of Covid-19 were found in Tottenham Hale.

The N17 postcode is one of eight regions where extra tests are being rolled out to see if the variant – first spotted in South Africa – has spread.

People in the area aged 16 and over are being urged to take a Covid test even if they have no symptoms.

Teams will be going door-to-door offering testing kits to households, and a mobile testing unit will be operating in the area.

Haringey’s director of public health Dr Will Maimaris said a “very small” number of cases had been identified, and there was “no evidence” people had picked up the strain in the borough.

“It is essential that as many local people as possible take a test to see how far, if at all, it has spread,” he added.

“For everyone who tests positive and has to self-isolate, that is one less person in the community passing it to neighbours or customers.

“Although we are in a national lockdown, you are still allowed out of your home for specific reasons, including getting a test.”

The South African variant of coronavirus can spread more easily than the original because it is better at binding to the body’s cells.

Vaccines work against the variant, but trials have shown some jabs are less effective than they are at combating the original Covid-19 virus.

On Monday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told a Downing Street press conference the UK needed to “come down hard” on the South African variant, although he added there was “currently no evidence” to suggest it was “any more severe”.

People testing positive for Covid-19 can immediately make a claim for a self-isolation payment of up to £500 to cover lost earnings.

Tests can be booked by calling 119 or visiting: https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test

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