Indian variant: Blitz testing in Kent to counter mutation as third wave fears grow

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The testing efforts will focus on two postcodes in the Canterbury area during two weeks. Kent’s interim Director of Public Health, Dr Allison Duggal, said authorities were ensuring the strain did not spread further.

She said: “It’s important to stress the number of cases of the B.1.617.2 variant of concern in the county are low – and that those identified to date have isolated appropriately, with their contacts traced and testing offered. But, in line with several other local authorities in England who are carrying out enhanced testing, we don’t want to take anything for granted.

“Working closely with Public Health England and Canterbury City Council, we are adopting a highly precautionary approach, continually assessing the situation and acting quickly to tackle outbreaks before they have a chance to spread.”

People living, studying or working in all CT1 postcodes and the CT2 7 postcode have been urged to take a PCR test.

Five mobile testing huts were set up in the area to conduct the testing.

People who have been vaccinated against the pathogen are also urged to undergo the test.

The Kent County Council explained in a statement that locals who are being tested will not need to self-isolate until they receive the results.

However, those presenting symptoms lshould not attend the testing centres.

Dr Duggan said the new testing drive along with the vaccination programme would help curb the spread of the virus in the area.

She said: “If you live in the relevant postcodes, I urge you to get tested at one of the mobile testing sites in Canterbury even if you have had one or two Covid vaccinations.

“If everyone plays their part by continuing to follow the public health advice in their local area, and getting vaccinated when invited, we can break chains of transmission and keep Kent safe.”

It comes after Professor Ravi Gupta, from the University of Cambridge, told the BBC that the UK was already in a third wave of infections and at least three-quarters of cases were the Indian variant.

He said: “Of course the numbers of cases are relatively low at the moment.
“All waves start with low numbers of cases that grumble in the background and then become explosive, so the key here is that what we are seeing here is the signs of an early wave.”

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