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Health officials to go door-to-door as Merton hit with South African virus variant

Merton is among one of three London boroughs where the South African variant of the coronavirus has been discovered, which has led to the launch of door-to-door testing to get the new variant under control.

Ealing and Haringey are the other two affected boroughs, with eight total locations across the UK, including Surrey and Kent, affected.

The Guardian is reporting that public health officials will be sent door-to-door later this week to carry out tests in the afflicted postcodes, as the Health Secretary is determined to stamp out the new variant.

The plan is for 80,000 people to be tested in the next two weeks, with those testing positively to be checked for any further variants.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Analysis of positive cases has found that the Covid-19 variant first discovered in South Africa has been identified in a small number of areas across the country, including London.

“I have been in close contact throughout today with PHE, NHS and London Councils and will continue to work with key partners on this important issue. 

“Enhanced testing will now be carried out in three postcode areas of W7 in Ealing, N17 in Haringey and CR4 in Merton, where we know there are a small number of cases.

“I strongly encourage anyone living in these areas to take a test – regardless of having symptoms or not – so that we can monitor and suppress the spread of the virus, and increase our understanding of this new variant.

“The Government must urgently make sure that local authorities have the resources they need properly to roll out both home testing kits and Mobile Test Units in these areas, and ministers must go beyond current measures to keep our borders properly secure.

“We know this variant is highly transmissible, so I urge all Londoners to follow the rules and stay at home to protect themselves, others and our NHS.”  

The South African variant of the virus is believed to be more transmissible than the original virus, but health officials were keen to downplay any suggestion that it was more dangerous or transmissible than the UK’s own coronavirus variant which was discovered late last year.

There is as of yet no firm evidence that the AstraZeneca virus is less effective against the new variants.

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