Additional testing to be deployed in part of England following confirmed COVID-19 variant case

2021-05-03 14:35:46 GMT2021-05-03 22:35:46(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

London, May 3 (Xinhua) -- Additional COVID-19 testing and genomic sequencing will be provided in and around the Woodlands area of Hounslow, Middlesex, England, Britain's Department of Health and Social Care said on Monday.

The move came after one confirmed case of the COVID-19 variant first identified in South Africa (B.1.351) was found in the area. The confirmed case has self-isolated and close contacts of the case have been identified. There are no links between this case and previous cases identified in the South London area, according to the department.

Everyone aged 16 and over who lives or works in the Woodlands area of Hounslow is strongly encouraged to take a COVID-19 PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test, whether they are showing symptoms or not, according to the department.

In addition to the testing, daily COVID-19 tests will be given to as many as 40,000 people who have been in contact with someone tested positive for COVID-19, in a new government-backed study.

The study is designed to gather evidence on safe alternatives to self-isolation for people who are contacts of positive COVID-19 cases.

Close contacts of people with COVID-19 will be contacted by phone and sent seven days' worth of lateral flow tests. The contacts are required to test themselves each morning for seven days. People who test negative and develop no symptoms will be exempt from the legal duty to self-isolate that day and can leave their home to carry out essential activity.

If successful, the study, led by the British Health Security Agency, could provide evidence to help to reduce the length of time people who are contacts of positive COVID-19 cases need to self-isolate, as parts of the economy and society reopen through the British government's roadmap out of lockdown, according to the government.

"This new pilot could help shift the dial in our favor by offering a viable alternative to self-isolation for people who are contacts of positive COVID-19 cases, and one that would allow people to carry on going to work and living their lives," said British Health Secretary Matt Hancock in a statement.

Experts have warned that despite progress in vaccine rollout, Britain is "still not out of the woods" amid concerns over new variants, particularly those first emerged in South Africa, Brazil and India, and the third wave of pandemic on the European continent.

To bring life back to normal, countries such as Britain, China, Russia, the United States as well as the European Union have been racing against time to roll out coronavirus vaccines. Enditem