Surge testing has begun in Redbridge after cases of the South African variant of Covid-19 were identified in the borough.

On Friday, April 30 a two-week scheme to administer 13,000 coronavirus tests to residents.

Door-to-door testing teams will be visiting residents in in Cranbrook, Ilford Town, Valentines, Chigwell, Hainault, Aldborough, Barkingside, Fairlop and Fullwell wards.

The tests will be delivered to front doors by council team members wearing PPE and carrying a Redbridge Council ID.

Teams will be offering tests to people regardless of whether they have symptoms or not.

The South African variant carries a mutation that makes the virus more contagious or easy to spread.

There is no evidence that this variant is any more serious than the original COVID-19 virus or that the approved vaccines offer less protection.

Gladys Xavier, director of public health at Redbridge Council, said:  “I am urging everyone who lives or works in the areas offering enhanced Covid-19 testing to take a test, to help us identify if there are any further existing cases.

“By taking a test, you’ll be playing your part in helping to keep your community and loved ones safe.

“It is important to 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 – and, if you are eligible, to get vaccinated when you are invited to by the NHS. Regular testing for Covid-19 also continues to be important.”