As you may well have seen on the news, Ealing Council is responding to the detection of a case of the South African variant of COVID-19 that has been identified in the West Ealing and Hanwell areas, says council leader Julian Bell in his latest video message (above and blog).
The government has informed us that an individual in this area, who tested positive for coronavirus at the end of December, has now been identified as having the South African variant. This individual had not travelled to South Africa or been in contact with anyone else who had. I’m pleased to say that they fully complied with the self-isolation requirements and have now made a full recovery. The government currently undertakes genome sequencing of 5% of positive tests to identify the variant – this takes several weeks, which is why this has only come to light now.
I want to reassure local residents that there is currently no evidence that the South African variant is either more dangerous or more transmissible than the UK variant that represents the majority of cases in London currently. There is also no evidence that the vaccines that have been approved for use in the UK won’t provide protection against the South African variant. People living in West Ealing and Hanwell should continue to work from home if possible and only leave the house for essential purposes, following the rules of the national lockdown. That is the case for everyone in the borough, wherever you live. Please also continue to follow the ‘hands, face, space’ rules whenever you are outside the home.
To help understand the spread of the variant, NHS Test and Trace have asked us to carry out tests of 10,000 residents in the area around the identified case, in parts of the W7 and W13 postcode areas. There is a postcode finder on the council’s website to identify if you are in the selected area.
Over the next two weeks, we will be ensuring that everyone aged over 16 in this area has the opportunity to take a test. A mobile testing unit has been present in Dean Gardens car park since yesterday (pictured), and if you are planning to leave the home for work or other essential activities, you can book a test there via the council’s website. You can also book a test here if you work in the affected area but don’t live there.
Otherwise, starting tomorrow, teams from the council will be delivering home testing kits to every home in the selected area. You can then undertake the test at home and the council team will return later in the day to collect it. Please do not post the test.
All the teams collecting and delivering the tests will carry council identification. They will not be collecting any payments – the tests are free.
If you live in the area and have any of the COVID symptoms, please book a test at one of the three testing centres in the borough by calling 119 or visiting nhs.uk/coronavirus
There is lots more information and frequently asked questions on the council website – look for the South African Variant banner on the top of the home page. If you are concerned or need support, you can contact the Ealing Together phoneline on 020 8825 7170.
Testing is vital to understanding how much this variant has spread. The better we understand that, the better our chances of suppressing it. If you live in this area, please do take a test, help to keep your community safe and protect the NHS.