Up to 350,000 people will be tested for the South African COVID variant, after cases were discovered that could not be traced back to international travel.
Local authorities in these areas will now work with the Government to encourage everyone over the age of 16 to take a COVID test.
Mobile testing units (MTUs) will be deployed offering PCR testing to people without symptoms, while additional home tests will also be made available.
Dr Susan Hopkins, strategic response director to Public Health England and chief medical adviser for NHS Test and Trace, said: ‘As part of our proactive sequencing work, we know that the new variant of COVID-19, first detected in South Africa, has been identified in a number of areas across England. A small proportion of these cases have no link to international travel suggesting that there are some cases in the community.
’In response to this, we are ramping up testing in targeted areas, so we can gather more information and effectively monitor any further community transmission.’
The postcodes being specifically targeted for this programme are EN10, W7, N17, CR4, PR9, ME15, GU21, and WS2.
Public Health England has identified 105 cases of the new COVID-19 variant since 22 December 2020.
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