Emergency surge testing will be deployed in Harrow after the South African Covid-19 variant was traced in the area.

The Department of Health and Social Care said today (March 15) that additional testing will be brought out in certain Harrow postcodes – as well as Southwark – as part of an effort to suppress the spread of the variant.

People living in the HA2 and HA3 postcodes are “strongly encouraged” to take a Covid-19 test when offered, whether they are showing symptoms or not.

Here is what you need to know.

Which areas are introducing enhanced testing?

Harrow Council says this includes streets in Belmont, Harrow Weald, Hatch End, Headstone North, Marlborough and Wealdstone wards.

Every person over the age of 16 living in the area will be contacted.

They will be asked either to complete a home test or book a test at Harrow Arts Centre. The council will also be approaching nearby businesses. 

People will be contacted through a leaflet in their letterbox for more information, or people will be contacted to deliver a home tesing kit.

Anyone who tests positive for the variant will go through enhanced contact tracing.

More than 300 cases of the variant have been detected in the UK.

Door-to-door testing

Harrow Council says they are working with Number 8 Events Ltd to carry out door-to-door testing in some affected areas, that will be collected within 2-3 hours.

The team dropping off the kits will:

  • Be carrying Number 8 Events Ltd ID badges
  • Be wearing a blue high visibility vest reading 'test centre'
  • Be wearing appropiate PPE and mantain a safe distance
  • Explain how to take the test and register it.

Notably, the team will not ask for personal information, ask for payment or ask to enter your property.

Carole Furlong, Harrow’s director of Public Health, said, “I’d urge everyone invited to take part in surge testing to do so.

"By testing you’ll be helping to limit the spread of Covid and make the lifting of further lockdown restrictions more likely.

“This variant is still quite new - while there’s no evidence that it’s more serious than others, or that vaccines are less effective against it, our understanding of it is still quite limited.

“Residents asked to take part in extra testing have a real opportunity to help us find out more about the South African variant and how to fight it.”  

This comes after surge testing was introduced in North Wembley earlier this month.

For more information on surge testing, visit harrow.gov.uk/surgetest