South African strain of Covid-19 found in Hanwell. Free tests available for Hanwell and West Ealing

Passing by Dean Gardens car park this morning I saw the mobile testing site being set up. It seems one Hanwell/West Ealing resident has tested positive for the South African strain of Covid-19 and the Council is urging people who live in or work in West Ealing and Hanwell to get a free test, whether or not you have symptoms. Booking details for a test are here. The more people who take the test the better the information about what may need to be done to contain its spread.

As well as the walk-in centre in Dean Gardens car park off Leeland Terrace, free home tests will be sent to local households. The test kit will have details of what to do and how to return the completed tests.

The Ealing Today site has more detail on this story.

Update at 11.30pm on Monday 1st February

This is an email from Ealing Council with more information:

The council’s public health team was contacted by national test and trace officials and colleagues from Public Health England in the last few days to confirm that several areas in the UK had been identified as having the South African variant of COVID-19.  A small number of individuals in these areas who tested positive with this variant had not travelled to South Africa or been in contact with anyone who had links to South Africa.

And NHS Test and Trace has now confirmed that a person in the W7 postcode area was one of these small number of cases. The individual is understood to have been tested for the virus at the end of December despite not having travelled to South Africa or been in contact with anyone else who had. The person, who is not being identified, is being praised for following all public health guidance and self-isolating.  They have now made a full recovery.

Ealing Council’s public health team was recently contacted by national test and trace officials and PHE and asked to support their response to the possible spread of this variant.

Although the government has said there is currently no evidence that it causes more severe illness or that the vaccine would not protect against it, the South African variant can be passed on more easily.

Testing local people for the variant

To swiftly respond to this a walk-through variant testing centre will be in place from today (Monday, 1 February) at Dean Gardens car park in Leeland Terrace, West Ealing W13 9DA. This will mean that parking in the Dean Gardens car park will be suspended.

Residents and people working in the area who do not have symptoms should book a test at the Dean Gardens car park mobile testing unit – there is a link on the website page. This is a PCR test that will be sent to a laboratory.

(please note that this test is different from the lateral flow tests that are also being offered in six venues across the borough of Ealing where you get your results within an hour or so)

Later this week, the council will also start a door-to-door delivery of free home test kits to all households within the identified area.

You can check if you are in the identified area with the postcode lookup on the website page

If you are clinically extremely vulnerable or shielding, you are asked to wait for the home test kit rather than attend the variant testing centre in Dean Gardens car park.

The kits will then be collected directly from households.  Do not post them back. The council will be publicising the delivery routes as and when they are available.

Professor Kevin Fenton, London regional director at Public Health England, said: “The UK has one of the best genomic systems in the world, which has allowed us to detect the variant originating in South Africa here in London. 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 national lockdown guidance that is in place – stay at home as much as possible, 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.”

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