Surrey Local Resilience Forum (SLRF) is working with Public Health England and the Department of Health and Social Care to carry out a localised ‘surge testing’ programme in the Goldsworth Park and St Johns areas of Woking.
This follows notification that a specific variant of COVID-19 has been identified from two positive tests in the area, in residents who have no links to travel or previous variant cases. The variant is known as the SARS-CoV-2 variant (also known as VOC-202012/02) which originated in South Africa.
Residents within the affected area will be visited, with the request that they carry out a COVID-19 PCR test whether they have symptoms or not.
This will enable us, working closely with PHE, NHS Test & Trace and the Joint Biosecurity Centre to closely monitor any community spread of the new variant, and restrict further transmission.
There is currently no evidence that the SARS-CoV-2 variant causes more severe illness, or that the regulated vaccine would not protect against it.
Residents in the affected areas, and across Woking, should remain calm and continue to follow the national restrictions that are currently in place.
A similar surveillance exercise is expected to extend into an area of Egham in the coming days, and residents will be kept informed.
By staying at home, we can all help stop the spread of COVID-19. If you do need to leave your home for essential reasons please ensure to keep your distance, wash your hands and cover your nose and mouth. If you test positive by any method, you must isolate to stop the spread of the virus.
As has been the case throughout this pandemic, SLRF will do everything possible to support efforts to beat COVID-19 and keep Surrey safe.
Ruth Hutchinson, Director of Public Health for Surrey, said: “This is a precautionary measure – the more cases of the variant we find, the better chance we have at stopping it from spreading further. By playing your part and taking the test, you’ll be helping to keep your community and your loved ones safe.
“It’s really important to say that there is currently no evidence that this variant causes more severe illness, so you don’t need to worry.”
Dr Alison Barnett, Regional Director at Public Health England South East, said: “The UK has one of the best genomic systems in the world which has allowed us to detect the variant originating in South Africa here in Surrey I urge everyone offered a test to take it up to help us to monitor the virus in our communities and to help suppress and control the spread of this variant.
“The most important thing is that people 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. If you test positive by any method, you must isolate to stop the spread of the virus.”
Further information including map of the affected area available at www.surreycc.gov.uk/wokingsurgetesting
A total of 105 cases of SARS-CoV-2 variant (also known as VOC-202012/02) have been identified to date across the UK.
Woking is one of a small number of areas within the UK where this surge testing operation is taking place.
The Surrey Local Resilience Forum has been working on the COVID response for Surrey since March 2020 and is made up of local partners including Surrey County Council, Surrey Police, District & Borough Councils, Surrey Fire & Rescue Service, Public Health England, local health services, volunteer organisations and others.