Surrey Local Resilience Forum (SLRF) is working with Public Health England and the Department of Health and Social Care to carry out a localised ‘surge testing’ programme in the Goldsworth Park and St Johns areas of Woking.
This follows notification that a specific variant of COVID-19 has been identified from two positive tests in the area, in residents who have no links to travel or previous variant cases. The variant is known as the SARS-CoV-2 variant (also known as VOC-202012/02) which originated in South Africa.
Residents within the affected area will be visited, with the request that they carry out a COVID-19 PCR test whether they have symptoms or not. A map of the affected area can be found here - www.surreycc.gov.uk/wokingsurgetesting
This will enable us, working closely with PHE, NHS Test & Trace and the Joint Biosecurity Centre to closely monitor any community spread of the new variant, and restrict further transmission.
There is currently no evidence that the SARS-CoV-2 variant causes more severe illness, or that the regulated vaccine would not protect against it.
Residents in the affected areas, and across Woking, should remain calm and continue to follow the national restrictions that are currently in place.
A similar surveillance exercise is expected to extend into an area of Egham in the coming days, and residents will be kept informed.
By staying at home, we can all help stop the spread of COVID-19. If you do need to leave your home for essential reasons please ensure to keep your distance, wash your hands and cover your nose and mouth. If you test positive by any method, you must isolate to stop the spread of the virus.
As has been the case throughout this pandemic, SLRF will do everything possible to support efforts to beat COVID-19 and keep Surrey safe.
Ruth Hutchinson, Director of Public Health for Surrey, said: “This is a precautionary measure - the more cases of the variant we find, the better chance we have at stopping it from spreading further. By playing your part and taking the test, you’ll be helping to keep your community and your loved ones safe.
“It’s really important to say that there is currently no evidence that this variant causes more severe illness, so you don’t need to worry.”
Dr Alison Barnett, Regional Director at Public Health England South East, 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 Surrey 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.”
As of 30 January 2021, 105 genomically confirmed cases of the SARS-CoV-2 variant which originated in South Africa (called VOC202012/02 in the UK,) have been identified in the UK.
Laboratory work has begun on the VOC 202012/02 in the UK and is routinely undertaken on all variants under investigation or of concern once samples are available.
Viruses often evolve and this is not unusual. Work is underway as a priority to understand the potential risk this variant may cause. It is important to say that there is currently no evidence that this variant causes more severe illness, or that the regulated vaccine would not protect against it.
The identity of the cases is confidential, and we cannot provide any further information.
The best way to stop the spread of the virus is to wash your hands, wear a face covering and keep your distance from others. Whilst in lockdown, it is important that we also stay at home unless it is absolutely essential to go out.
Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests check for the genetic material (RNA) of the virus in the sample. The sample is tested in a laboratory.
Yes, because this sample is specifically being genome sequenced for the variant.
You only need to self-isolate if you have symptoms, you have tested positive and/or been in contact with someone who has tested positive and been contacted by Test and Trace.
You'll usually get a text or email with your result when it's ready. Most people get their result the next day, but it may take up to 3 days.
If you have symptoms of COVID-19 (a high temperature, a new and persistent cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste), however mild, you should self-isolate for at least 10 days from when your symptoms started.
You should also get a test straight away through the NHS Test and Trace Service by calling 119 or visiting www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test .
Once you have received your test result, you should follow the guidance on test results.
Yes. However, if you develop symptoms you must self-isolate.
We are testing as many people as possible over the age of 18 in the local area at this stage. This testing is offered over and above the existing testing strategy and will help us decide if further testing is needed.
You can call the Surrey Community Helpline 0300 200 1008 (Monday to Friday: 9am to 5pm, weekends 11am to 3pm).
SMS: 0786 0053 465 for Deaf and hearing impaired residents only (Monday to Friday: 9am to 5pm).