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 within selected areas of Goldsworth Park, St Johns and Knaphill.
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 selected area will be visited by a member of the testing team who will leave enough kits for everyone in the household to complete a test. All members of a household are requested to carry out a COVID-19 PCR test (Polymerase Chain Reaction), whether they have symptoms or not.
This will enable the SLRF, 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 selected areas, and across Woking, should remain calm and continue to follow the national restrictions that are currently in place.
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.”
Further information including an interactive map of the selective area available at www.woking.gov.uk/surgetesting
- If you are asked to take a test you do not need to self-isolate as this is a surveillance measure only
- Residents with any COVID-19 symptoms should follow national public health advice in the normal way
- If residents being asked to take a test have a vaccination appointment, they can still attend unless they have any COVID-19 symptoms, in which case they should follow national public health guidelines
- Businesses, care settings, schools, and other settings in and around the affected area will be contacted if impacted. If we do not contact you, then you do not need to take any action
- Residents outside of the selected area do not need to take any action.
Any residents who wish to authenticate/validate why this person is visiting them can contact the Surrey County Council Community Helpline (0300 200 1008) or Woking Borough Council (01483 755855).
More information, with an interactive map of the affected area is available on the Woking Borough Council (WBC) website. Residents will be able to use the postcode checker to identify whether they are in the affected area or not. This will be complimented by clear messaging on the homepage. WBC will also issue an email to those residents identified as being within the selected area whose email address they hold on the Electoral Register. Advertising vans have also been scheduled to drive around the area.
Questions & Answers
- How many cases of the SARS-CoV-2 variant VOC202012/02 have been detected in the UK? 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.
- What is being done to detect the variant? 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.
- What further information can you provide us about the cases? The identity of the cases is confidential, and we cannot provide any further information.
- What can I do to prevent further spread? 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.
- What is a PCR test? Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests check for the genetic material (RNA) of the virus in the sample. The sample is tested in a laboratory.
- I have recently had a PCR/LFD test, do I need another? Yes, because this sample is specifically being genome sequenced for the variant.
- Do I need to self-isolate? 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.
- How will I receive my results? 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.
- What should I do if I develop symptoms after the test? 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.
- I am an essential worker; can I go to work whilst awaiting my results? Yes. However, if you develop symptoms you must self-isolate.
- Why are you only testing people aged over 18? 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.
- Who can I contact if I have further questions? 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).