How has Covid surge testing worked elsewhere?

A woman gets a rapid Covid-19 test.

Surge testing for the South African variant of Covid-19 is set to take place in Diss and Roydon - Credit: PA

Diss and Roydon are not the first places in the UK to be subjected to coronavirus surge testing.

Mass testing is set to begin in a small portion of south Norfolk after the South African strain of the virus was found in the area.

A 'beacon of hope' is set to be installed in Diss to mark the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Pi

Surge testing for the South African variant of Covid-19 is set to take place in Diss and Roydon - Credit: Archant

All adults in Diss and Roydon will be tested from Friday, and people are already being urged to book appointments. 

Norfolk's public health director Dr Louise Smith has, however, said there is "no need for people to worry".

But what exactly does surge testing entail and how has it worked elsewhere?

Scaled-up testing for the Covid-19 variant first identified in South Africa began in early February, initially across eight postcodes.

Coronavirus testing. Picture: PA Images

Surge testing for the South African variant of Covid-19 is set to take place in Diss and Roydon - Credit: PA Images

Three of the areas were in London, with others in Kent, Surrey, Merseyside, Walsall and Hertfordshire.  

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The programme was subsequently expanded to include other parts of London, north Worcester and various neighbourhoods in Bristol and south Gloucestershire.

In these areas, people who lived or worked there were asked to take tests - whether or not they were displaying symptoms.

Health secretary Matt Hancock previously told the House of Commons it was "critical" that residents in targeted locations stayed at home as much as possible. 

People were encouraged to work from home if they could, while some schools - which remain open to vulnerable pupils and children of key workers - asked parents to keep their children at home where possible. 

Details on how surge testing in Diss and Roydon will work are yet to be announced, but more information is set to be revealed on Wednesday. 

Other areas have opened new testing sites, sent out more home test kits and even provided door-to-door testing.

Mobile testing units and additional home testing kits have been widely distributed into the designated surge zones. 

There has been a sharp rise in the number of daily coronavirus cases recorded in Norfolk. Picture: D

Surge testing for the South African variant of Covid-19 is set to take place in Diss and Roydon - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

The aim of surge testing is to reduce the spread of infection by identifying asymptomatic cases and instructing people to self-isolate as a result.

Ultimately, it will also help scientists to understand more about the South African strain and how it works. 

Until now, public health experts have been closely examining around 5-10pc of all positive Covid cases to look for variants.

But, when it comes to surge areas, all positive tests will be sequenced in order to pin down where further spread has occurred. 

Parts of Norfolk have some of the lowest rates of new coronavirus cases in the country Picture: Get

Surge testing for the South African variant of Covid-19 is set to take place in Diss and Roydon - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The South African variant of the virus does not appear to cause more serious illness than the original coronavirus strain.

It is, however, thought to spread more easily and some vaccines may be less effective in protecting against it. 

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