Surge testing is to begin in an area of Leeds as authorities attempt to control the potential spread of the South African COVID-19 variant after more cases were found.

The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) said people living in the LS8 postcode should take a test when offered, whether they are showing symptoms or not.

The extra testing will begin next week in the Harehills part of the city and the area just north of Easterly Road, where the variant was first identified.

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Leeds City Council said two cases were confirmed in a household in early January but that the residents isolated and made a full recovery.

Victoria Eaton, the council’s director of public health, said: “There is absolutely no indication of live cases of the South African variant in the LS8 area, and no evidence of a greater risk of transmission for local people.

“Levels of infection have been falling in these areas of Leeds over recent weeks, in line with improving infection rates right across the city, which is really positive news and we want to do all we can to keep these rates falling.”

The DHSC said there would be additional testing and genomic sequencing deployed but also encouraged people to continue to adhere to the lockdown rules.

It added: “People with symptoms should book a test in the usual way and those without symptoms should visit their local authority website for more information.”

Residents are being encouraged to take a coronavirus test if they live in the following other areas:

• GU22 – Woking, Surrey

• SO15 – Southampton

• IP22 – Norfolk

• M40, M9 – Manchester

On 16 February it was reported that a total of 217 confirmed or probable cases of the South African variant had been discovered in England, a rise of 15 since the last update on 11 February, according to Public Health England.

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