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SOUTH AFRICAN VARIANT: Mass testing in parts of Sandwell

Following the discovery of a person with the South African variant in the area people who are aged 16 and over who live in specific streets in the Tipton and Oldbury border area are being urged to take a rapid Covid-19 swab test, even if they are not showing symptoms.
Health leaders say there is currently no evidence that this variant causes the illness to be more severe, or that the regulated vaccines would not protect against it. However, research indicates that it does transmit from person to person more easily.
A new mobile mobile testing unit (MTU) at the PureGym car park in Dudley Port has opened from this Wednesday. it will be available for testing from 10am-3pm. A booking system for drive-in appointments will be available on Sandwell Council's website.  Sandwell Council has confirmed the South African variant case is not linked to international travel.
Councillor Maria Crompton, the council's deputy leader, said: "I know this news will cause concern. Our priority is to keep our communities and especially our most vulnerable residents safe.
"We are making additional, targeted testing easily available in these specific areas, so we can monitor and control this new variant.
"We are strongly encouraging people to get tested even if they don't have symptoms."
Director for Public Health in Sandwell Dr Lisa McNally, said: "The more cases of the variant we can find, the better chance we have of suppressing it.
"If you are asked to be tested please, please do take up the offer, it's quick easy and painless and you'll be saving lives by doing so.
"Please help to keep your community safe by getting tested so we can protect you and your loved ones."
There are no additional restrictions or lockdown measures for those living in the Oldbury and Tipton border area – and people should continue to follow the national guidelines.
In other Covid news Public Health England has revealed the coronavirus infection rates for our region, all the following figures refer to cases per one-hundred thousand people.
Tamworth has stayed level at 84 cases, with Staffordshire Moorlands rising to 84 from 71.
Concerns in Lichfield which has also risen, from 71 to 84, with Solihull going up from 50 to 82 per 100k.
Stratford upon Avon has risen to 69 from 47 too, with East Staffordshire also rising, in the top 50 for the country.
And most concerning is Redditch now the fourth highest in the nation, infection rates have soared there to 152 cases per 100,000 people.
More positively, there are now eighty-nine West Midlands postcode regions that have recorded zero Covid and despite concerns regarding the new variant of the virus in the borough, Sandwell has also dropped below the threshold.

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