Surge testing in Brentwood area of Essex after one case of South Africa variant found

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Surge testing is being deployed in the CM13 postcode in Brentwood where a single case of the South Africa coronavirus variant has been found.

Those living within Essex's CM13 postcode area are strongly encouraged to take a COVID-19 test when offered, whether they are showing symptoms or not, the local government website said.

It added that people with symptoms should book a coronavirus test in the usual way, and those without symptoms should visit their local authority website for more information.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: "Working in partnership with the local authority, additional testing and genomic sequencing is being deployed to the CM13 postcode in Brentwood, Essex, where a single case of the COVID-19 variant first identified in South Africa has been found."

It comes hours after Health Secretary Matt Hancock told told Sky News there was evidence the number of cases of the South Africa and Brazil variants in the UK were falling due to enhanced contact-tracing and stricter border measures.

He did, however, caution that it is important to remain vigilant.

"If one of these new variants doesn't respond to the vaccine as well as the others - as well as the standard variant in the UK, which is the Kent variant - then, if that's the case, then that's obviously a very serious risk for the vaccination programme," Mr Hancock said.