Door-to-door Covid testing is set to begin in parts of Ilford after a case of the South African variant of the deadly virus was confirmed in the area.

Redbridge Council officers will be delivering tests to residents in The Loxford and Clementswood areas of Ilford in the coming weeks.

The move comes after one person who tested for Covid-19 at the end of January showed a positive result for the variant, first identified in South Africa, despite not having travelled to South Africa or been in contact with anyone who had.

A spokesperson for the council said: "This person followed all public health and self-isolation guidance and has made a full recovery. However, the council and public health need to gather as much information as possible from people living and working in Loxford or Clementswood to see if this variant is present in these communities and, if so, work with local people to stop the spread.

"To do this, up to 5,000 people over the age of 16 living or working in Loxford or Clementswood will be asked to take a PCR test over the next two weeks from Friday, February 26. There is currently no evidence that this variant is any more serious than the original Covid-19 virus or that the approved vaccines offer less protection."

Cllr Mark Santos, cabinet member for health, adult social care, and ageing, said: "This is about taking swift action to keep driving down the number of cases of Covid-19 in our communities and to enable us to gradually move out of lockdown in line with the government’s roadmap. I also want to remind people that there is support available. For anyone who tests positive and has to self-isolate, they may be eligible for a support grant of £500 from the government. There is also lots of help available from the council and community groups for anyone who is struggling as a result of this pandemic either with their mental health, or practical issues.”

Covid-19 tests are being offered in two ways:

  • People who do not have symptoms and are not shielding can get tested by visiting a walk-through mobile testing unit at Jubilee Gardens, Ilford lane from 9am to 3pm. You do not have to book, but you may have to queue.
  • Redbridge Council’s engagement team will be offering door-to-door PCR home testing in the affected areas for anyone over the age of 16 regardless of whether they have symptoms or not. Once the tests have been taken the kits will be collected by the engagement team and sent for analysis in a laboratory. The tests, delivery and collection service are all free.

If residents are shielding, or have symptoms, they should wait for the delivery of the home test kits, and not go to the Jubilee Gardens testing unit.

Anyone who tests positive will be contacted by the NHS Test and Trace Service and asked to self-isolate for ten days.

Gladys Xavier, director of public health at Redbridge Council, said: “The UK has one of the best genomic systems in the world which has allowed us to detect the variant originating in South Africa here in Redbridge. I urge everyone in Loxford and Clementswood wards who is offered a test to take it up to help us to monitor the virus in our communities and to help suppress and control the spread of this variant.

“The most important thing is that people continue to follow the guidance that is in place – limit your number of contacts, wash your hands regularly and thoroughly, keep your distance and cover your face. If you test positive by any method, you must isolate to stop the spread of the virus.”

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