This week, the Government announced that ‘surge testing’ will take place in various parts of the UK after the South African variant was detected there.

Residents over the age 16 living in these areas where the new variant has been detected have been ‘strongly encouraged’ to take a test this week.

The announcement and increased need for testing was implemented after the cases were found that could not be easily linked to those who had travelled internationally.

Where is the testing being carried out?

  • London: W7 (Ealing), N17 (Haringey) and CR4 (Mitcham)
  • West Midlands: WS2 (Walsall)
  • East of England: EN10 (Broxbourne)
  • South East: Me15 (Maidstone) and GU21 (Guilford)
  • North West: PR9 (Southport)

These are the areas where the new variant has been detected, but the cases have no link to travel from South Africa.

On Wednesday (February 3), two cases of the South African variant were also confirmed in Scarborough.

Which is the closest case to Oxfordshire?

The variants in Ealing and Guilford are the closest confirmed cases to Oxfordshire.

Oxford Mail:

Is the South African variant more dangerous?

The South African strain is said to be like the strain found in Kent back in December.

It is said to share the same mutation believed to be responsible for the increased transmissibility in the Kent variant.

The South African variant can be up to 70 per cent more transmissible and has been potentially linked to higher death rates.

Will the vaccine work on the South African variant?

The vaccines will still work on this new variant, however, with less efficacy of protecting against the virus.

Early data of the two new vaccines, by Novax and Johnson & Johnson, showed that there was less efficacy of protecting against the virus on participants in South Africa.

The Novax vaccine, however, still has a 50 per cent efficacy on all variants of coronavirus.

The Johnson & Johnson single shot vaccine said it had a 66 per cent efficacy, but only 57 per cent on trial participants in South Africa.

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