SURGE TESTING TAKING PLACE IN WOOBURN GREEN AREA TO CONTROL SPREAD OF COVID-19 VARIANT

Use this link to see if you are in the area https://www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/news/surge-testing-taking-place-in-wooburn-green-area-to-control-spread-of-covid-19-varient/

Extensive surveillance of Covid-19 has identified a case of the Covid-19 variant first discovered in South Africa, in the area of Wooburn Green, Buckinghamshire, that cannot be traced back to international travel. The person has self-isolated and followed all of the recommended guidance.

Working in partnership with NHS Test and Trace, Buckinghamshire Council is encouraging every person living and working in the HP10 postcode area, over the age of 16, to take a PCR Covid-19 test this week, even if they are not showing symptoms. Children over the age of five who live in this postcode can also be tested at the request of the parents/carers.

We will be delivering home test kits to all households in Wooburn Green and parts of Flackwell Heath from Thursday 25 February until Tuesday 2 March. These tests can be taken at home and will then be collected later that day by one of our volunteers.

If there is no-one at home, a leaflet will be dropped through the door explaining how to get a test. If you have no symptoms this can be done at the Mobile Testing Unit (MTU) in the Wooburn Green area. For details visit: www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/surgetesting

If you have symptoms and want to take a test visit: https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or call 119. You should not attend the Wooburn MTU if you have symptoms.

Testing will, in combination with measures such as hands-face-space and lockdown measures, help to suppress and control the spread of the virus, while enabling a better understanding of the new variant.

Positive tests will be sequenced to identify any further spread of the new variant first discovered in South Africa, enabling a better understanding of the variant and identifying if there are any more cases of this variant of the virus in the area. If someone tests positive, they must self-isolate immediately and pass on details of their contacts to NHS Test and Trace.

There is currently no evidence to suggest that this variant causes more serious illness than other variants.

Dr Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Advisor 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.”

Jane O’Grady Director of Public Health for Buckinghamshire 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 the Wooburn Green 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.”

Gareth Williams, Cabinet Member for Communities and Public Health at Buckinghamshire Council said:

“We have a team of volunteers made up of council staff and our partners who will be out in the Wooburn Green area and parts of Flackwell Heath over the next five to seven days delivering tests, door to door. Everyone involved will have had a Lateral Flow test before they go out, will be wearing PPE to ensure both their safety and those of our residents, and all will have official identification.

None of our volunteers will be asking for any personal information, bank account details, passwords, PIN numbers, a payment or asking you to call a premium rate number. Volunteers will also not need to go into any houses.”

FOR MEDIA INTERVIEWS/ENQUIRIES: PLEASE CONTACT IN THE FIRST INSTANCE RACHEL PRANCE ON 0771 1040 758 OR NEIL PHILLIPS ON 0782 573 4129 OR EMAIL COMMUNICATIONS@BUCKINGHAMSHIRE.GOV.UK

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 here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/surge-testing-for-new-coronavirus-covid-19-variants
• Anyone who has COVID symptoms within the Operation Eagle area can still use the home test kits delivered and collected by the door-knocking volunteers. However, the MTU in Wooburn Green must be for asymptomatic individuals only. So anyone who has symptoms but is unable/unwilling to self-swab will be directed to book a test through the national system – https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or call 119. They will still be included in genetic sequencing on the basis of their postcode.
• People without symptoms should visit www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/surgetesting for more information.
• If you have tested positive using a PCR Covid-19 test in the last 90 days then you do not need to take one of the home tests.
• People should continue to follow the lockdown rules and remember ‘hands, face, space’.
• 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.