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Over three months to test all Tooting residents for South African variant

It would take over three months to test all Tooting residents for the South African coronavirus variant at the current rate, despite increased testing capacity.

Wandsworth and Lambeth announced a testing surge last Monday, offering PCR tests to all over 11-year-olds living or working in the councils.

The decision followed 44 confirmed cases of the South African coronavirus variant and another 30 probable cases detected across the boroughs.

Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, MP for Tooting, denounced the limited testing resources on Twitter last Wednesday.

She said: “Tooting has approximately 105,000 residents, but capacity at the only Tooting PCR testing site is less than 700 a day – which would take us five months to test everyone this way.”

As a response, Wandsworth has set up 23 additional testing centres across pharmacies in the council, 11 of which are in Dr Allin-Khan’s constituency.

South West Londoner has been able to confirm that the testing capacity of these 11 pharmacies combined adds between 250-310 PCR tests a day in Tooting.

This means it would take over three months to test all Tooting residents at this rate, even if the centres opened over the weekends.

An extra centre opened in Balham falls outside the constituency’s boundaries but remains within walking distance.

Wandsworth Council has not confirmed how many tests are processed at this centre, nor the number being sent to residents’ homes, which could significantly impact the overall testing rate.

When confronted with these numbers, a spokesperson for the council argued that Wandsworth manages testing logistics for Public Health England, which has the capacity to increase the number of tests conducted across the country.

It was not made clear how many residents need to be tested to establish an accurate picture of the extent of the South African variant in south London.

If you live or work in Wandsworth and show no symptoms of Covid-19, book your PCR test here.

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