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Residents asked to test after South African Covid strain found in South Harrow

Unrelated case detected in South Harrow. Residents in selected areas will be asked to take part in ‘surge’ testing. Tests vital to suppress the variant and find any further cases.

Harrow residents and workers are being urged to do all they can to prevent the spread of Covid following the discovery of a third case of the South African variant.

The case found in South Harrow is not linked to travel or to the two previous cases found in the borough.

The affected resident followed public health guidance, self-isolated and worked with Public Health England and the Council to identify close contacts. They have now made a full recovery.

Home testing kits will be offered to all over-16s living or working in a small number of streets in South Harrow, Roxbourne, and Roxeth wards, and nearby businesses, to help get a better picture of whether the strain has spread.

Over the last few weeks, positive COVID-19 tests from people with symptoms in the borough have been sent for variant testing. Due to the discovery of the third case, this will now be extended.

Testing is the best way of identifying people with the virus and stopping it from spreading. Harrow has one of the highest borough testing rates in London.

Although the borough’s COVID-19 rates have dropped significantly in recent weeks, rates remain high in some parts of the borough.

Working alongside NHS Test and Trace and Public Health England, Harrow Council wants to do everything possible to drive down infection rates before lockdown restrictions ease further.

Residents not asked to take part in surge testing can test using the council’s rapid testing service, providing they feel well. Tests can be booked at harrow.gov.uk/test.

Anyone with symptoms of Covid – a fever, continuous cough or changed sense of taste or smell should self-isolate to prevent the spread of Covid and book a test at gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or by calling 119. 

Further information about this work and the support available to residents can be found at harrow.gov.uk/surgetest.

Carole Furlong, Harrow’s Director of Public Health, said,

“I know people will be concerned about this third case of the South African variant – I am pleased to hear they made a full recovery and want to thank them for staying at home during the self-isolation period, helping to stop the spread”.

“If you are asked to take part in the testing, please do get tested to help protect your loved ones and the wider community - by identifying any other cases we can help break the chain of infection”.

“This variant is still quite new - while there’s no evidence that it’s more serious than others, or that vaccines are less effective against it, our understanding of it is still quite limited."

“Thank you for all you are continuing to do to keep Harrow safe - please continue to follow the lockdown rules, wash your hands regularly, keep your distance from others and wear a face covering.”

Published: 31st March 2021