Enhanced testing confirms no cases of South African variant found

No cases of the South African variant were found among the 11,000 tests carried out in the London borough of Merton in February and March as part of two enhanced testing programmes.

Two programmes were launched as a precaution after two individual cases of the variant, with no link to recent travel, were found – one in Pollards Hill and one in the Wimbledon Park area.

Enhanced testing took place in Pollards Hill for two weeks from February 3, while Wimbledon Park ran a week-long programme starting on February 26. The results were confirmed to the council by the NHS this week.

As expected, the exercise did find positive tests for COVID-19 in general, but the programme found no cases of the South African variant of concern.

In Pollards Hill, 1.5% of the 6,000 tests were positive for COVID-19; in Wimbledon Park, the figure was 0.3% from 5,000 tests.

Mark Allison, Leader of Merton Council, said: “We promised to inform residents once we had official figures, and thanks largely to the people of Merton sticking to lockdown guidance, I’m pleased to say no more cases of the South African variant were found.

“I cannot thank our residents enough, or our staff, volunteers, community partners and NHS colleagues who helped mobilise this exercise and run our Mobile Testing Units. Merton is a great place, and our communities in Pollards Hill and Wimbledon Park have been fantastic.

“This exercise has proved that the people of Merton will do what is right to protect our neighbours, and that our great community will work as Merton together for the good of everyone. I’m so proud of all those involved.”