New strain has spread beyond Hanwell and West Ealing
Door to door testing offered to residents. Picture: Ealing Liberal Democrats
Residents in Acton have tested positive for the South African variant of coronavirus, the local authority has revealed.
Areas of West Ealing and Hanwell have been part of a mass testing exercise by the Government after a case of the South Africa strain in W7 was discovered last month, but what the council describes as a small number cases of the disease have been found elsewhere in the borough including Southall and Greenford as well as Acton.
Ealing Council is urging residents to get tested for coronavirus over the next month to help drive down the borough’s coronavirus rates and find other people who may have the variant.
The number of people confirmed with the South African variant is said to be in single figures, according to the authority.
Despite falling cases, Ealing has one of the highest rates of the virus in London at 133.4 per 100,000 in the latest government data published on February 24.
A council spokesperson said over the last few weeks all Covid-19 positive tests from Ealing have been sent for testing for variants of the disease. It is believed monitoring different strains and the spread of the virus is key to the Government’s roadmap for recovery and easing restrictions in the coming months.
They added,“This activity follows recent surge testing in Hanwell and West Ealing. The council is now asking people to go to their local walk-up community test sites and get a rapid test from Thursday, 25 February. This will help identify people who have the virus and whether further tests need to take place to check for variants.
“There are several different variants of Covid-19 in the UK and it is likely that more will develop as the virus changes over time. Therefore, it is essential to drive down the number of cases of Covid-19 whichever variant people have.”
Those living and working in the Hanwell and West Ealing areas who took part in the surge testing programme are able to take a further test if they want to.
As of February 19, more than 9,000 people had completed a test for the exercise.
Council leader Julian Bell said, “I want to thank residents for everything they are doing to keep Ealing safe.
“Although this news will cause concern, I’d ask people not to worry. There is no evidence that the South African strain of the virus will cause more severe illness or that vaccines won’t protect people from its worst effects.
“The only safe route out of this pandemic is through vaccination. Anyone who is eligible and offered a vaccine should do so without delay.”
Professor Kevin Fenton, London regional director for Public Health England said since the start of the pandemic more than 4,000 mutations of the virus have been found in the UK and that all viruses mutate over time.
He said that most are not a concern to scientists but that some officials are “keen to track more carefully”.
He added: “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 one in three people with COVID-19 don’t have any symptoms at all, and testing is quick and free. If you are a resident of Ealing, please take advantage of the opportunity to take a test and keep London safe.”
“If you are going out, please make sure you get a test as this will help to protect everyone.”
To find out more and how to get a test click here.
Anahita Hossein-Pour - Local Democracy Reporter
March 8, 2021