Door-to-door testing rolled out as South African COVID-19 variant found in Herts

Hertfordshire County Council has issued a statement on a 'significant and very concerning' rise in c

South African COVID-19 variant found in Herts - Credit: Archant

The South African variant of the coronavirus has been found in Hertfordshire, and the county council will now carry out door-to-door testing in Broxbourne.  

This is the neighbouring borough to Welwyn Hatfield and will involve the testing of adult residents in the EN10 area, which includes Paradise Wildlife Park near Northaw, Cuffley, and Bayford.  

From Tuesday, residents who are over 18 years old and live in the ‘EN10’ postcode will be provided with a leaflet through their letterboxes to explain how they can get tested, in the following ways:

  • Extra mobile testing capacity has been set up at the Broxbourne Lido site & Paradise Wildlife Park (in EN10, Broxbourne) and from Monday 1 February,
  • Home testing kits will be available to pick up from Wormley Community Centre and Hoddesdon Library

From Thursday, all households will be directly contacted at their doorstep and will be provided with a home testing kit from a public health or licensed officer with a hi-visibility uniform or valid ID.

Jim McManus, director of public health at Hertfordshire County Council, said: “It is vitally important that we test as many adults in this local area, whether showing symptoms or not. This is an important step in containing this new South African variant of COVID-19 from spreading further in our local communities.

“Although this new variant of COVID-19 is thought to be more easily transmitted, there is currently no evidence that this variant causes more severe illness, or that the regulated vaccine would not protect against it.”

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Lewis Cocking, leader of Broxbourne Council, said: “Testing plays an important role in stopping the spread of the virus. Testing, even when you do not have symptoms, helps identify people with the virus so that they can isolate and avoid spreading it to others in the community.

“I don’t want people to be alarmed at this new development. It is an isolated case but I am urging all members of the public that live in the EN10 postcode area, who are not showing symptoms, to either book an appointment online or use a home testing kit.”

The government remains confident that the vaccines being used at the moment will be effective against the new variant.  

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said today: “We are confident that all the vaccines that we are using provide a high degree of immunity and protection against all variants." 

In total 105 cases of this variant have been identified in the UK.

The council has also offered the following advice about the South African strain:  

  • There is currently no evidence that this variant causes more severe illness, or that the regulated vaccine would not protect against it. 
  • People should continue to follow the lockdown rules and remember ‘hands, face, space’. 
  • We know that changes form a part of the virus cycle and public health colleagues are well prepared to sequence new variants and assess what action may need to be taken. 
  • If a person tests positive, has any symptoms, or are contact traced following contact with someone who tests positive, they should self-isolate immediately. 

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