THE SOUTH African variant has begun to spread across the UK, the Tories confirmed yesterday.
Tory Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the 5.00pm briefing: ‘We will protect UK supply and we will play our part to ensure that the whole world will get the jab. A mutation in one part of the world is a threat to people everywhere. We have now identified 105 cases of the South African variant here.’
He warned: ‘There have been 11 cases identified that have no links to international travel. We are surging testing into the areas where they have been found. We are testing door-to-door.’
He reiterated that previous cases in the UK had been traced back to South Africa.
But random checks have identified 11 cases that cannot be linked to someone who has come back from South Africa.
The cases are in the neighbourhoods of W7, N17 and CR4 in London, WS2 in Walsall, ME15 in Maidstone, Kent, PR9 in Southport, EN10 in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire and GU21 in Woking.
There is now a desperate attempt at containment.
Kent County Council said police staff will be going door-to-door to offer residents in the ME15 area tests ‘there and then’. In Hertfordshire, residents in the EN10 area will receive a letter offering tests at mobile screening units, to collect at a local library, or through the post.
Dr Susan Hopkins, of Public Health England, urged people to come forward in these areas. ‘We are trying to contain this so it does not spread,’ she said.
Around 80,000 people in England will be offered urgent tests for the South Africa coronavirus variant.
Residents aged 16 and over in eight areas across Surrey, London, Kent, Hertfordshire, Southport and Walsall are being asked to take tests, regardless of symptoms.
On vaccination, Hancock said: ‘We have now vaccinated 9.2m people across the UK. That includes 931,204 vaccinations just this weekend. And we can put that into context, that is one in every 60 adults in the whole United Kingdom vaccinated in a single weekend. It is a mammoth effort.
‘We have now vaccinated almost 9-in-10 of almost all over eighties in the UK and now as of today we have vaccinated almost half of all people in their seventies.
‘We have visited every eligible care home with older residents in England and offered vaccinations to all of their residents and staff.’