Skip to content
#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Image: PA Images

Hundreds of thousands of Londoners tested amid South African variant fears

Some 44 confirmed cases of the variant have been found in south London, with a further 30 probable cases identified.
Apr 15th 2021, 10:48 PM 45,107 48

THOUSANDS OF LONDON residents have queued to take coronavirus tests at additional facilities set up after new cases of the South African variant were found in boroughs across the English capital.

Some 44 confirmed cases of the variant have been found in Lambeth and Wandsworth, with a further 30 probable cases identified, the Department of Health and Social Care said.

The South African variant is thought to be more resistant to vaccines – but it’s as of yet unclear to what extent.

More than half a million adults living in south London boroughs have been offered tests in the past few days, including 264,000 in Lambeth, 265,000 in Wandsworth, and 14,800 in the Rotherhithe ward of Southwark.

Surge testing operations have been widened across London after further cases of the South African variant were found today.

2.59179852 Coronavirus surge testing at Brockwell Park, south London. Source: PA Images

Three boroughs in south London have set up additional testing facilities to process thousands of residents, while a case of the variant was also detected in a new area – Barnet, north London.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) confirmed the case in Barnet was unrelated to other clusters, but it had been isolated and the person’s contacts traced.

A mammoth task

In south London, Wandsworth Council said the testing operation is a “mammoth task” but urged all adults in the area to get tested even if they do not have any symptoms, while people in Lambeth and an area of Southwark have been asked to do the same.

“People are desperate to get checked,” a spokesperson for the council said. “We’re in the process of testing around 320,000 people and that will take some time – it’s a mammoth task.”

Downing Street has insisted the outbreak is being taken “very seriously” and “strong measures” have been put in place to prevent it spreading.

The BBC reported that the outbreak appears to have been triggered by an individual who travelled from Africa in February.

According to documents seen by the broadcaster, the country involved was not on the red list for mandatory hotel quarantine at that time, but is now.

#Open journalism No news is bad news Support The Journal

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support us now

What this means for Ireland

Public health officials said at today’s NPHET briefing that they are monitoring the South African variant closely.

“What we do know from preliminary work is that the [AstraZeneca] vaccine is not as effective against the South African variant, but I don’t have up to take data on exactly what the evaluation studies are doing,” Dr Lorraine Doherty, National Clinical Director of Health Protection at the HSE said.

“At the moment we don’t have a big problem with the South African variant here. Figures we have today is that we have 46 cases so far, which is a small number of cases.”

Dr Doherty said that last week, a decision was taken to sequence all cases associated with travel, “so we would have an early signal if we were detecting any [variant of concern] cases coming from the UK”.

With reporting from Gráinne Ní Aodha.

Send a tip to the author

Press Association

COMMENTS (48)

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a comment

     
    cancel reply
    Back to top