Testing for South African variant in Hanwell and West Ealing

The council’s public health team was contacted by national test and trace officials and colleagues from Public Health England in the last few days to confirm that several areas in the UK had been identified as having the South African variant of COVID-19.  A small number of individuals in these areas who tested positive with this variant had not travelled to South Africa or been in contact with anyone who had links to South Africa.

And NHS Test and Trace has now confirmed that a person in the W7 postcode area was one of these small number of cases. The individual is understood to have been tested for the virus at the end of December despite not having travelled to South Africa or been in contact with anyone else who had. The person, who is not being identified, is being praised for following all public health guidance and self-isolating.  They have now made a full recovery.

Ealing Council’s public health team was recently contacted by national test and trace officials and PHE and asked to support their response to the possible spread of this variant.

Although the government has said there is currently no evidence that it causes more severe illness or that the vaccine would not protect against it, the South African variant can be passed on more easily. 

Testing local people for the variant

Starting tomorrow, Wednesday, 3 February, the council will carry out a door-to-door delivery of free home test kits to all households within the identified area. The council will be publicising the delivery routes as and when they are available. 

The kits will then be collected directly from households.  Do not post them back.

Check if you are in the identified area with this postcode look-up

There is a walk-through variant testing centre which opened yesterday (Monday, 1 February) at Dean Gardens car park in Leeland Terrace, West Ealing W13 9DA. Residents and people working in the area who do not have symptoms can book a test at the Dean Gardens car park mobile testing unit (MTU). If there are no available slots, you can wait for a home test kit to be delivered, as long as you're in the identified area. Please do not turn up at the MTU without a booking. Parking in the Dean Gardens car park has been suspended. 

If you are clinically extremely vulnerable or shielding, you are asked to wait for the home test kit rather than attend the variant testing centre in Dean Gardens car park.

Professor Kevin Fenton, London regional director at Public Health England, 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 London. 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 national lockdown guidance that is in place – stay at home as much as possible, 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.”

You can find out more about COVID-19 variants

Some statistics on the variants are available

Presentation slides from the public meeting on COVID-19 enhanced testing in parts of Hanwell & West Ealing

Watch the YouTube recording of the public meeting