It is important people take a PCR test as these can identify specific variants. Rapid lateral flow device (LFD) tests are also widely available but can only determine positivity for Covid-19, not specific variants.
Tests are available across the borough, with details of your nearest test centre on the lambeth.gov.uk/enhancedtesting or by calling 119. There are also walk in appointments in Lambeth and home tests available.
Facilities are also available in the London borough of Wandsworth at www.wandsworth.gov.uk/surge-testing.
If you do have Covid-19 symptoms get tested at one of several symptomatic local test sites. You must book an appointment at www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or call 119.
For people who do test positive, Lambeth has a comprehensive Covid-19 self-isolation support service for those who need it. That includes payments of up to £500 for residents on low incomes. To find out more call 0800 054 1215, 9am to 5pm, seven days a week or visit www.lambeth.gov.uk/self-isolate-help.
Residents are also being asked to get vaccinated if invited by the NHS for a jab. All residents must continue following national Covid-19 restrictions, which are currently at Step 2 on the roadmap out of lockdown.
All viruses mutate over time and new variants emerge regularly. Lambeth is one of several boroughs in which small numbers of the variant have been found since the start of this year. All previously identified cases are now self-isolating and robust contact tracing has taken place to trace their contacts and ask them to self-isolate.
There is currently no evidence to suggest this variant is more serious than others, or that the regulated vaccines would not protect against it. Anyone who tests positive must self-isolate immediately and pass on details of their contacts to NHS Test and Trace when contacted. Positive tests will then be examined in a laboratory to determine whether any of them are the variant first identified in South Africa.
The Director of Public Health for Lambeth, Ruth Hutt, said: “It is vital that all Lambeth residents take an asymptomatic PCR test so that we can identify all cases in order to stop the spread of this variant of concern.
“Alongside taking a PCR test we are asking everyone who lives and work in the borough to continue following the guidance in place to stop the spread of Covid-19. That includes limiting your contacts with other people, washing your hands regularly and thoroughly, keeping your distance and covering your face.
“If you test positive for Covid-19 via a PCR test or rapid lateral flow test it is crucial that you self-isolate so you don’t pass on the virus, and support is available to help you do that.”
Anyone who is over-18 and has no symptoms of Covid-19 can also collect up to seven free rapid response lateral flow devices (LFDs) per household when they take their test. These tests do not help track the variant first identified in South Africa, but are still useful in monitoring the spread of the virus, and stopping further infections.
Lambeth has previously run enhanced testing in two areas in the borough after single cases of the variant first identified in South Africa were discovered. These pieces of work have been completed, and are not related to the new call for everyone in Lambeth to be tested.