10,000 households in Herts will be asked to do COVID test due to new South African variant

Coronavirus cases in South Cambs and North Herts. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto/Richard Johnson

The South African strain of the coronavirus has been detected in Broxbourne. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Contact tracing is under way in Broxbourne after the South African variant of the coronavirus was detected in the town. 

At a press briefing this afternoon, Herts County Council set out its action plan to determine if it had spread in the area, and how it would be contained.

Director of public health at Herts County Council Jim McManus said: "We have one case of the South African variant in Hertfordshire in the EN10 area of Broxbourne. 

"Thankfully, that person is on the mend which is the most important thing of all.

"There's a risk if there isn't any link to travel of community spread. The government has asked all the areas where these cases are - including Surrey and London - to do two things.

"The first is to establish the spread and circulation of the variant, and the second is to try to contain it."

The council will be monitoring this new variant in a number of ways. Firstly, there will be waste water monitoring, which will be used to detect virus variants.

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Everybody in the affected postcode, EN10 - 10,000 households - will receive a letter from the county council, and will be offered a PCR swab test, which can be accessed in three ways.

Residents can book a test via the national system mobile testing units will be available to residents - one at Paradise Wildlife Park and another at the Lido car park. 

You need to state that you do not have symptoms and select the option "this person is taking part in community testing".

From tomorrow, people will be able to pick up a testing kit to test themselves at home and return it to Wormley Community Centre in Broxbourne, the Post Office or Hoddesdon Library.

Finally, from Thursday, representatives from the council will be going door to door, offering tests. Everyone door knocking will be in uniform and will have identification. On no account will they ask you for money. 

Mr McManus added: "Contact tracing is under way of the person who has tested positive. We haven't yet found any links to the other cases in England, and these are not linked to travel.

"We don't want lots of variants  of the virus circulating because the more variants that exist the more the risk of a variant that becomes resistant to the vaccine or treatment."

Mr McManus ended the briefing with a message to those who may be worried: "Be focused, not fearful. This is all very much about prevention."

The South African variant is easier to transmit, however Prime Minister Boris Johnson said earlier today: “We are confident that all the vaccines that we are using provide a high degree of immunity and protection against all variants." 

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