Thousands face emergency Covid tests in bid to halt spread of South Africa variant in UK

Published on February 2, 2021 by

There’s growing concern among health experts about the South African variant of coronavirus after random checks found a number of cases in the UK which could not be linked to international travel.

The health secretary for England Matt Hancock said authorities across the UK would have to “come down hard” on the variant. Around 80,000 people in England will be offered urgent tests for the variant.

Door to door testing will be carried out in the affected areas which include parts of London, the West Midlands, Hertfordshire, Kent, Surrey and Merseyside.

Mr Hancock urged people in these areas to stay at home unless they “absolutely have to leave”.

Health officials say they are confident the current vaccines will be effective against the South African variant, although probably not as effective as they are against other known strains.

Huw Edwards presents BBC News at Ten reporting by health editor Hugh Pym.

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