Surge testing is to take place in Harrow schools to help tackle the spread of the ‘Indian variant’ of Covid-19.

Harrow Council today (Friday, May 21) confirmed it would start the tests next week with ambitions to test “as many young people aged 11 and over” before schools break for half-term on May 28.

The council has also urged parents, carers, and other family members to take home tests or visit test centres to support this effort.

It added schools may choose to encourage more widespread mask wearing while testing is carried out.

Carole Furlong, director of public health at Harrow Council, said: “It is vital that we carry out this additional testing to quickly identify people with positive tests.

“We are testing for variants of concern, such as the B1.167.2 as we know it to be more transmissible than the usual virus.

“There is no difference in what you have to do if you test positive – you and your household still need to isolate for 10 days.

“Our number one priority is to protect our community by stopping the spread of Covid-19, which is why we are carrying out this programme of surge testing.

“Please make sure you follow the guidelines carefully so we can stop the spread.”

The council explained it is conducting the testing in schools as data shows many households testing positive for the variant contain people from younger age groups.

Furthermore, young people are less likely to be vaccinated and more likely to be asymptomatic.

The variant – first discovered in India – is spreading throughout parts of the UK, including north-west London.

According to the latest figures from Public Health England, there have been more than 3,000 positive cases of the variant.

Cllr Graham Henson (Lab, Roxbourne) said it is vital people continue to get tested to combat this and to come forward for the Covid-19 vaccine when invited.

This echoed the message from prime minister Boris Johnson, who described the situation as a “straight race” between transmissibility of the new variant and vaccine delivery.

“The NHS is doing everything it can to turbo-boost that, and that is the challenge that’s ahead of us in the next two to three to four weeks, to make sure that we outrun the virus through really vigorous pull-through on vaccine delivery,” he told a Downing Street press conference on Wednesday (May 19).