All residents of Diss and Roydon in Norfolk are to be offered tests for Covid 19 after a small number of cases of a new variant were discovered.
Extensive surveillance of Covid-19 has identified a very small number of cases of the Covid-19 variant first discovered in South Africa, in localities across England, including in the Diss area, 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 NHS Test and Trace, every person living in Diss and Roydon over the age of 16 is strongly encouraged to take a PCR Covid-19 test this week, even if they are not showing symptoms. Testing will begin on Friday 19 February. Mobile Testing Units (MTUs) will be deployed offering PCR testing, with local authorities encouraging people to get tested in the area by also providing home test kits for those who can’t get to an MTU.
Letters with details of the testing being made available are being sent to all households in the Diss and Roydon areas.
There is currently no evidence to suggest this variant causes more serious illness than other variants.
Testing will, in combination with existing measures such as hands-face-space and lockdown measures, help to suppress and control the spread of the virus, while enabling a better understanding of the new variant.
Positive tests will be sequenced to identify any further spread of the South Africa variant, enabling a better understanding of the variant and identifying if there are any more cases of this strand of the virus in the area. If someone tests positive, they must self-isolate immediately and pass on details of their contacts to NHS Test and Trace.
How to access a test
Whether they have Covid symptoms or not, everyone aged 16+ who lives or works in the parishes of Diss and Roydon need to get tested in one of the following ways so their tests can be checked for the South African variant:
1. Mobile Testing Unit
Residents can book a test at the one of the following extra Mobile Testing Units at:
Diss youth and community centre, (19 February – 25 February 09:00 – 15:00)
Roydon Community Centre (19 February – 04 March 12:00 – 18:00)
Diss leisure Centre (19 February – 04 March 09:00 – 15:00)
To book a test residents should visit: www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test.
Those who don’t have Covid symptoms should click ‘yes’ when asked ‘is the person who needs a test part of a trial or government project?’ and then select ‘taking part in community testing’.
Those who do have Covid symptoms follow the instructions on the website and choose one of the Mobile Testing Units listed above and drive to the testing centre if they can. If a resident with Covid symptoms can’t arrive by car, they should call 01508 533 933 and a test will be dropped off at their home.
2. Pick up and drop off a testing kit to take home
From Friday 19 February residents of Diss and Roydon can pick up and drop off a testing kit from the places listed below. No appointment is needed. Testing kits should not be returned in the post box:
Midwich Ltd, Vince’s Rd, Diss IP22 4YT: 09.00 – 19.00, 19 February to 4 March
Outside Roydon White Hart / Roydon church: 09.00 – 19.00, 19 February to 4 March
3. Door to door testing
If a resident is unable to get to a Mobile Testing Unit or collect a testing kit to take home, a test can be dropped at their door. Those who need support to carry out the test can call 01508 533 933, and a home visit can be arranged.
To protect residents from the risk of scams, officers will wear a high visibility uniform with a very visible logo, PPE and visible identification. No one will ask residents for any payment of any kind or any bank details. If in any doubt, residents can ask officials for identification or call 01508 533 933.
If any resident in a household has been identified as being clinically extremely vulnerable, someone will drop a test at their door – there is no need for these residents to go out to access a test.
Dr Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Advisor for NHS Test and Trace said:
“As part of our proactive sequencing work, we know that the new variant of Covid-19, first detected in South Africa, has been identified in a number of areas across England. A small proportion of these cases have no link to international travel suggesting that there are some cases in the community.
“In response to this, we are ramping up testing in targeted areas, so we can gather more information and effectively monitor any further community transmission.”
Cllr Andrew Proctor, Leader of Norfolk County Council, said:
“This testing is all about monitoring the situation, looking out for community transmission, and gathering the information needed to help us reduce the spread of this variant in Norfolk. We’ve written to residents in Diss and Roydon to offer tests to everyone, even those who are symptom-free, and I’d ask all the residents of the area to take the offered tests and help us understand where the virus is and what steps we can take to reduce transmission.”
Dr Louise Smith, Norfolk’s Director of Public Health, said:
“Thanks to our close working with the Quadram Institute in Norwich, we’ve been able to detect the variant originating in South Africa here in Norfolk. To ensure we identify any spread of this variant , we will now be offering everyone in the area a test to take it up to help us to monitor the virus in our communities, and I would urge everyone who is eligible to take the tests offered.
“This is a precautionary action. Overall, the number of cases in South Norfolk is falling and there is no reason for local people to be worried by this increased testing.
“The most important thing is that people continue to follow the guidance that is in place – limit your number of contacts, wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds, keep your distance and cover your face. If you test positive by any method, you must isolate to stop the spread of the virus.”
Dr Aliko Ahmed, Regional Director at Public Health England East, said:
“The UK has one of the best genomic systems in the world which has allowed us to detect the South African variant in Norfolk. I urge everyone offered a test to take it up to help us to monitor the virus in our communities and help suppress and control the spread of this variant.
“The most important thing is that people continue to follow the guidance that is in place – limit your number of contacts, wash your hands regularly and thoroughly, keep your distance and cover your face. The national lockdown restrictions still apply to people living in Diss and Roydon but there are no extra restrictions linked to this testing programme just the plea to take part.
“If you test positive by any method, you must self-isolate to stop the spread of the virus. I also encourage everyone who is contacted by the NHS to get the COVID vaccine to take up this important offer, to help protect themselves and help build protection in the community.”
Cllr John Fuller, Leader of South Norfolk District Council, said:
“Last year our residents worked together to turn the tide of rising numbers in Wymondham. Now we need to pull together again and I am asking every resident in Diss and Roydon to help us by taking a test. We know that our most vulnerable residents will be worried about going outside, so our Covid Support Advisors will be going door to door, visiting each and every one of them, to make sure that they can have a test in the safety of their own home.”