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Surge testing to be deployed in Finchley where the variant first identified in South Africa has been found

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Extensive surveillance of COVID-19 has found a case of the variant first identified in South Africa, in Finchley, that cannot be traced back to international travel. The person is now self-isolating and robust contact tracing has taken place to trace their contacts and ask them to self-isolate.

COVID-19

COVID-19

Working in partnership with NHS Test and Trace, every person living in affected postcodes in Finchley N3 over the age of 16 is strongly encouraged to take a PCR COVID-19 test, even if they are not showing symptoms. Check if your N3 postcode is in the affected area.

This week, a team working on behalf of Barnet Council will be going door to door to affected households in N3 to offer PCR home testing kits. Other people in affected areas, will receive a leaflet asking them to get tested at a Mobile Testing Unit (MTU) located in Finchley Central Underground Station car park. Regular shoppers in Ballards Lane are also encouraged to get tested at the MTU.

Dr Tamara Djuretic, Barnet’s Director of Public Health said:

“One case of the variant first identified in South Africa of COVID-19 was detected in Finchley. There is no evidence at present that they have passed the infection further. However, we are introducing door-to-door testing and deploying a new mobile testing unit in Finchley to assess whether it has spread further.

“I urge everyone to continue to stick to the rules of social distancing, hand washing and face covering to keep themselves and others safe from the virus. Getting tested and getting vaccinated will help us all return to normality as soon as possible.”

When knocking on doors, the team will be wearing a ‘Test Centre’ printed blue high visibility vest together with the appropriate PPE, maintain a safe distance, and have ID stating they are working on behalf of Barnet.

If people have concerns about anyone knocking on their door claiming they are working on behalf of Barnet Council, they are advised to ask for ID.

If anyone misses the test kits being delivered, they can get tested at the new mobile testing unit (MTU) in the car park of Finchley Central station.  

There is currently no evidence to suggest this variant is more serious than others or that existing vaccines aren’t effective against serious illness or death from COVID-19.

Testing will, in combination with vaccination rollout and measures such as hands-face-space-fresh air and lockdown measures, help to suppress and control the spread of the virus, while enabling a better understanding of the mutation. 

Positive tests will be sequenced to identify any further spread of the variant, enabling a better understanding and identifying if there are any more cases of this particular strand of the virus in the area. If someone tests positive, they must self-isolate immediately and pass on details of their contacts to NHS Test and Trace. People that don’t have coronavirus symptoms and aren’t a close contact of an positive case do not need to isolate while waiting for results.

Professor Kevin Fenton, London regional director for Public Health England said:

“All viruses mutate over time and since the start of the pandemic over 4,000 mutations have been identified in the UK. Most are not a concern for scientists, but we know that some mutations result in virus variants that we are keen to track more carefully.

“In London we’re working with NHS Test and Trace and local authority public health teams on tailored intervention measures for variants. These include more testing, additional genomic sequencing and enhanced contact tracing, enabling us to quickly identify any further cases and help prevent any onward spread.

“It’s key that we adapt and respond to the changing nature of COVID-19 in a way that works for our communities, our city and for Londoners. Taking this targeted approach is essential as we look to take the first cautious steps out of lockdown.

“Around 1 in 3 people with COVID-19 don’t have any symptoms at all, and testing is quick and free. If you are an eligible resident of N3 please take advantage of the opportunity to take a test and keep London safe.”

Ends

  • People with symptoms should book a test in the usual way. People without symptoms should visit their Local Authority website for more information.
  • People should continue to follow the rules and remember ‘hands, face, space, fresh air’.
  • We know that mutations form a part of the virus cycle and we are well prepared to sequence new mutations and assess what action may need to be taken.
  • If a person tests positive, has any symptoms, or are contact traced following contact with someone who tests positive, they should self-isolate immediately.
  • If a person has to self-isolate and needs financial support, they can apply for two grants under the national payment support scheme and the Barnet enhanced discretionary self-isolation support payment: www.barnet.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19-latest-information-and-advice/employment-skills-and-financial-help-covid-19-7

Further support services:

  • Help Hub COVID Helpline

 https://engage.barnet.gov.uk/communityhelphub%C2%A0

or call 0808 281 3210, Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm

  • Local foodbanks

Visit: https://www.barnet.gov.uk/directories/food-banks

  • Shopping, handyperson, and befriending

Visit: https://www.ageuk.org.uk/barnet/  or call: 0208 203 5040

  • Accessing benefits and grants support

Visit: https://www.barnet.gov.uk/benefits-grants-and-financial-advice

  • For mental wellbeing

Barnet Wellbeing Hub Call: 03333 449088

or email: info@barnetwellbeing.org.uk

  • Community Barnet COVID-19 (if aged between 18 to 55 years old)

Call: 020 8016 0016 or email: covidhelp@communitybarnet.org.uk