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Surge coronavirus testing will begin in parts of south Manchester on Tuesday after four cases of a mutation of the more transmissible Kent variant were detected in two unconnected households in the Moss Side area.
Enhanced community testing will begin in parts of Hulme, Moss Side, Whalley Range and Fallowfield to try to limit the number of people exposed to the mutation and understand its spread.
There is no evidence that this variant will be resistant to the vaccines or causes a more severe illness, and it is not yet known if the strain can be passed more easily between people.
More than 10,000 tests will be supplied to the community, Manchester city council said.
Additional testing sites will be set up in the area to enable anyone over the age of 16 who lives, works or studies in the designated area to get a test as quickly as possible. No appointment will be needed and testing will also be made available for people who work in the area but do not necessarily live there.
In the coming days, volunteers will also begin knocking on people’s doors to offer alternative testing for anyone who cannot get to a testing site.
Residents of the following postcode areas are asked to check the council website: 14 4, M14 7, M15 5, M15 6, M16 7, M16 8.
David Regan, Manchester city council’s director of public health, said: “We all know that the virus will change over time and it’s important that we investigate new strains to understand how they might spread. This is exactly what we’re doing with the intensive testing in parts of Manchester with local testing units and people going door-to-door to offer people tests.”
Dr Will Welfare, the deputy director for health protection at Public Health England North-West, said: “As part of our testing work, Public Health England (PHE) has identified in the Moss Side area of Manchester a small number of Covid-19 cases of the variant first identified in Bristol and South Gloucestershire.
“PHE is working closely with and supporting Manchester city council, as we monitor the situation closely and ensure all necessary measures are being taken to reduce the spread of the virus.
“The most important thing is that people continue to follow the guidance that is in place – limit the number of people you come into contact with, wash your hands regularly and thoroughly, keep your distance and cover your face. If you test positive you must isolate to stop the spread of the virus.”
Responding to comments by the Labour leader, Keir Starmer, comments about the South African variant of coronavirus being the greatest threat to UK, the Manchester Central MP, Lucy Powell, said: “These variants, especially the variants that are found to be resistant to the vaccines that we’re currently rolling out, of course are a worry.”
She told BBC Breakfast that measures on protecting the border, such as hotel quarantine, are “only just coming into play now”, adding: “These delays we can ill-afford because that’s how the new variant takes seize in this country from other countries.”
Surge testing is already in place in 12 other parts of England, including Sefton in Merseyside and Maidstone in Kent, amid fears that new variants could spread.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Mutation of Kent Covid variant discovered in Manchester | UK news