COVID-19: What you need to do if you are living in a 'surge testing' area

·2-min read

Door-to-door testing is being launched in parts of the UK after cases of a COVID-19 variant first discovered in South Africa was detected.

People living in Surrey in the Goldsworth Park and St Johns areas of Woking will have a COVID-19 PCR test posted through their letterbox as part of a localised "surge testing" programme.

The scheme is expected to be extended to Egham within the next few days.

"Surge testing" is also set to be deployed in other parts of the UK where the variant has been found, including in London, the South East, West Midlands, east of England, and the North West.

What will I be asked to do if I live in an affected area?

Residents will receive delivery of a testing kit - there will be no need to book a test or travel to a testing site.

The kit will contain a box which will need to be constructed so the completed tests can be placed in ready for collection.

Those in the household aged 18 or over will be asked to complete the free test, regardless of whether they have any symptoms, so the spread of the new variant can be monitored and restricted.

Do I need to self-isolate?

Residents will only need to self-isolate if they have symptoms, have tested positive, or been in contact with someone who has tested positive and has been contacted by Test and Trace.

People can still attend a vaccination appointment - unless they have any COVID-19 symptoms and would then need to follow the national public health guidelines.

How and when will I receive my results?

Results are normally ready the next day - but it could take up to three days.

People should receive their results via a text or an email.

Why is the testing currently restricted to the over-18s?

The scheme exceeds the existing testing strategy and will help officials make a decision as to whether further testing is needed.

How many cases of the variant found in South Africa have been detected in the UK?

As of 30 January, there have been 105 confirmed cases. Scientists are already carrying out work in laboratories to investigate the variant.

Live COVID updates from the UK and around the world

Is the variant detected in South Africa more transmissible?

Yes. Viruses often evolve and research is being carried out to understand what risks this variant -VOC-202012/02 - may cause.

There is currently no suggestion the variant is more harmful than other COVID-19 strains and there is no evidence to indicate the vaccines will not offer protection.

What can be done to prevent further spread?

Wash your hands regularly, wear a face covering, keep your distance from others and stay home unless it is absolutely essential to go out.

Should people take extra precautions?

Follow the national guidelines - hands, face, space. Officials say the situation is being closely monitored and residents will be informed of any further changes.