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South African Variant COVID-19 Alert

The government has announced the roll out of additional surge testing and sequencing in a number of locations where the South African Variant of COVID-19 has been found. Testing should, in combination with following the national lockdown rules the mantra of ‘Hands. Face. Space’ help to identify, monitor and suppress the spread of the new variant of the virus, while enabling a better understanding of the new variant.

Existing surveillance of the virus has identified a small number of cases of the COVID-19 variant in localities across England, that cannot be traced back to international travel. All cases are now self-isolating and robust contact tracing has taken place to trace their contacts and ask them to self-isolate.

Working in partnership with local authorities, enhanced testing and sequencing will be targeted within specific postcode areas. These postcodes are:

  • W7, N17 and CR4 in London
  • WS2 in Walsall
  • ME15 in Maidstone, Kent
  • PR9 in Southport
  • EN10 in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire
  • GU21 in Woking

Everyone over the age of 16 living in these locations is strongly encouraged to take a COVID test this week, whether they are showing symptoms or not and this additional testing will begin in these areas from today, Monday 1st February 2021.

Mobile testing units (MTUs) will be deployed offering the most accurate, 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. With this in mind Employers with staff living or working in these areas who travel for work, should ensure those staff are tested and self isolate where identified as positive.

For organisations  with sites around those areas or who have staff in those areas, it would also be advisable to review risk assessments and safe working procedures as well as monitoring arrangements and ensure staff who can work from home are doing so, everyone has access to hand sanitising products and are using them on a regular basis, staff are maintaining at least 2m social distancing and where this is not possible other controls are in place. Where mobile staff are working in these areas, risk assessments, safe systems of work as well as face coverings and hand sanitising arrangements should also be reviewed and updated where required.

This is what we are advising you to do as an employer.

  • If you have staff who live and travel to work from these areas, provide then with a copy of the Government guidance, below, and encourage them to obtain a test. Then take the appropriate action as a result.  
  • If your business is located in any of the locations listed below,
    - Inform staff of the tests
    - Review and update your Covid RA
    - Increase your cleaning regime
    - Review any staff bubbles and working hours changes to minimise contact between groups of staff
    - Question do you need your staff at work as they should be working from home if they can
  • If your staff travel to or through these areas listed as part of the current work activities
    - Review the need for the journey
    - Update your Risk Assessments to reinforce the need for social distancing, face coverings and hand sanitiser
    - If visiting clients, ensure clients have Covid 19 RA and safe working practices before you agree to visit
    - Allow the staff member visiting your client to terminate the visit at any point if they consider the environment is unsafe

Visiting a client will include delivery of goods to a client located in any of these areas.

People with symptoms should book a test in the usual way and people without symptoms should visit their local authority website for more information.

Here is the summary of the full Government update and the link to share with management and staff if required.

Surge testing to be deployed to monitor and suppress spread of COVID-19 variant

Page summary:
Additional testing is being made available in locations where the COVID-19 variant first identified in South Africa has been found.

Change made:
First published.

Time updated:
3:12pm, 1 February 2021

Follow this link to find out more.

Any questions regarding our advice, please call us, you are never alone with Park City and we are stronger together.

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