Door-to-door coronavirus testing is being rolled out in parts of England in an attempt to stem the outbreak of a more contagious variant discovered in South Africa.
CNN reported that the "surge testing" scheme will see mobile testing units deployed in eight areas where the variant has been found.
"Additional surge testing and sequencing are being deployed in a number of locations where the COVID-19 variant first identified in South Africa has been found. Testing will, in combination with following the lockdown rules and remembering 'Hands. Face. Space' help to monitor and suppress the spread of the virus, while enabling a better understanding of the new variant," the Department of Health and Social Care said in a statement.
The Health Department further added that as many as 105 cases of the strain had been detected in the UK to date and 11 "cannot be traced back to international travel," leading to concerns about community transmission.
Postcodes affected are London, West Midlands, East of England, South East, North West of England.
"Every person over 16 living in these locations is strongly encouraged to take a COVID test this week, whether they are showing symptoms or not. Mobile testing units (MTUs) will be deployed offering PCR testing to people without symptoms who have to leave their home for work or essential reasons, with local authorities encouraging people to get tested in the area by providing additional home test kits," the department said further.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said that it is vital "that we do all we can to stop transmission of this variant".
"I strongly urge everyone in these areas to get tested, whether you have symptoms or not. The best way to stop the spread of the virus - including new variants - is to stay at home and follow the restrictions in place," he said.
"Until more people are vaccinated this is the only way we will control the spread of the virus. The UK is a global leader in COVID-19 genomics, and because of this, we have been able to identify new strains of the virus and take decisive action," he added.
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