Testing is being ramped up in Walsall to curb the spread of the South African strain of coronavirus.
Walsall Council hopes to test 10,000 residents without symptoms to combat the mutant variant after a ‘small number of cases’ were identified in the borough.
Those over the age of 18 who are living or working in parts of the WS2 postcode area will be encouraged to take a Covid-19 test this week – even if they are not showing symptoms.
Home test kits will be provided as part of the drive, in addition to at least one additional mobile testing unit.
All positive tests will be analysed to identify any further spread of the new variant.
Councillor Stephen Craddock, Walsall’s portfolio holder for health and wellbeing, said: “I do understand that this news will cause concern. Our priority remains very much to keep our communities, and particularly our most vulnerable residents, safe.
“Please do play your part by following the ‘hands, face, space’ guidance and minimise your contact with others as much as possible.
“We are aiming to test an additional 10,000 residents without symptoms of Covid-19 in the next few weeks to assess containment of this variant.
“If you are asked to be tested, please do take up the offer. It’s quick, easy and painless and, put simply, you could save lives by doing so.”
Stephen Gunther, director of public health, added: “The more cases of the variant we find, the better chance we have at suppressing it.
“There is currently no evidence that this variant causes more severe illness, or that the regulated vaccines would not protect against it, but research indicates that it does transmit from person to person more easily.
“We know that mutations form a part of the virus cycle and the scientific community is well prepared to analyse new variants and assess what action may need to be taken.”