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Targeted testing in parts of Smethwick and Cape Hill as variant found | Sandwell Council

Targeted testing in parts of Smethwick and Cape Hill as variant found

Published 14th April 2021

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Target postcodes

Extensive surveillance of Covid-19 has identified a case in the Smethwick/Cape Hill area of the variant first discovered in South Africa.

Measures to control further spread of the virus, including contact tracing and isolation, have been put in place.
 
The next stage is now to ask as many people in the local area as possible to take a test. These tests will be for people without symptoms and allow the identification of any further cases of the new variant.
 
Sandwell Council is encouraging people aged 16 and over without symptoms within specific streets in the Smethwick/Cape Hill area to take a PCR Covid-19 swab test. Use our postcode checker to see if you’re in the area where you need to get a test
 
These include specific streets in the wider B66 3, B66 4 and B67 6 postcode areas, in an area loosely between the southern side of Price Street and Windmill Precinct in the north, Durban Road in the east, Cheshire Road in the west and Church Road, Grange Road and Edith Road in the south. This includes the Victoria Park area and specific sections of High Street, Cape Hill, Windmill Lane, Waterloo Road and Bearwood Road.
 
A mobile testing unit behind Smethwick Council House, High Street, will open from 9am-3.45pm tomorrow (Thursday 15 March) for walk-in tests and drive-in tests.
 
From Friday (16 March), the mobile testing unit will be open 8am-3.45pm seven days a week.
 
Use our postcode checker to see if you’re in the area where you need to get a test. For anyone who is not online or has questions about the targeted testing in the area, please call the Healthy Sandwell team on 0800 011 4656 for advice.
 
People with symptoms of Covid-19 should continue to book a PCR test in the usual way, via the Government website or by calling 119. They should not attend the testing site at Smethwick Council House.
 
Dr Lisa McNally, Sandwell’s director of public health, said: “Sandwell has seen a remarkable fall in infection rates in recent weeks – one of the fastest in the country.
 
“But the emergence of this new variant is a concern and reminds us that we still have work to do.
 
“We are making additional, targeted testing easily available in these specific areas, so we can monitor and control this new variant.
 
“We are strongly encouraging people to get tested even if they don’t have symptoms.”
 
Dr McNally added: “The more cases of the variant we can find, the better chance we have of suppressing it.
 
“If you are asked to be tested please, please do take up the offer, it’s quick easy and painless and you’ll be saving lives by doing so.
 
“Please help to keep your community safe by getting tested so we can protect you and your loved ones.”
 
There are no additional restrictions or lockdown measures in the Smethwick/Cape Hill area – people should continue to follow the Government’s national rules and hands-face-space-fresh air guidance.
 
Anyone testing positive must self-isolate immediately and pass on details of their contacts to NHS Test and Trace.
 
Any positive tests will be analysed to identify any further spread, enabling a better understanding of the variant and identifying if there are any more cases of this particular strand of virus in the area.
 
Dr Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Advisor for NHS Test and Trace, said: “As part of our proactive sequencing work, we have identified cases of Covid-19 variants 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.
 
“PHE and NHS Test and Trace are monitoring the situation closely and appropriate public health measures such as increased testing and contact tracing are being put in place where necessary.”
 
Katie Spence, Deputy Director at Public Health England Midlands, said: “The UK has one of the best genomic systems in the world which has allowed us to detect the variant first identified in South Africa here in the Smethwick/Cape Hill area.
 
“I urge everyone offered a test to take it up to help us to monitor the virus in our communities and to help suppress and control the spread of this variant.
 
“The most important thing is that people continue to follow the guidance that is in place – limit your number of contacts, wash your hands regularly and thoroughly, keep your distance and cover your face. If you test positive by any method, you must isolate to stop the spread of the virus.”
 
It’s more important than ever that if you’ve been invited to book your Covid-19 vaccination, you book your vaccination online or by calling 119. 
 
Notes to Editors
• Working in partnership with local authorities, NHS Test and Trace is targeting specific areas where the variant has been found. A list of locations deploying surge testing is available.
• People with Covid-19 symptoms should book a test in the usual way.
• People should continue to follow the Government’s rules and remember ‘hands, face, space – and fresh air’.
• We know that mutations form a part of the virus cycle and we are well prepared to sequence new variants and assess what action may need to be taken.
• If a person tests positive, has any symptoms, or are contact traced following contact with someone who tests positive, they should self-isolate immediately.