Enhanced community testing to begin to investigate spread of COVID-19 mutation in Manchester

Enhanced community testing will begin in parts of Moston and Harpurhey after a case of a mutated form of Covid-19 was detected in the city.

The virus identified in this area is a Kent variant with E484K mutation and has recently been classified by NERVTAG (New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group) as a variant of concern.

Investigations are under way to understand if the virus has spread further in the community.

The council is working with Public Health England and NHS Test and Trace to put in place additional testing in the local area to investigate further and to take action to limit the number of people exposed.

From tomorrow (Wednesday, 17 February) testing will begin within the community.

If you do live in the boundary area (map in Notes to Editors section), please attend one of the testing sites (detail below). You only need to take a test once.

These sites are for people who do not have symptoms but live, study or work within the testing boundary area.

A mobile testing site will be set up at the Ebsworth Street car park in Moston.

This site will open at midday tomorrow (17th) and will be open from 12pm until 5pm.

From Thursday 18 it will run seven days a week between 10am and 5pm.

Additional testing sites will be set up in the southern part of the testing zone to enable everyone over the age of 16 who lives, works, or studies in the designated area to get a test as quickly as possible.

These sites will operate as walk-up centres with no need to book a test in advance. An additional testing site will also be made available within the next few days.

If you have tested positive for Covid-19 through a PCR test (a swab test taken when symptomatic) within the past 90 days you do not need to get a test.

If you have tested positive for Covid-19 on a lateral flow test (for asymptomatic patients) you will need to take another test.

Volunteers will also begin knocking on people’s doors to offer alternative testing for anyone who can’t get out to a testing site, and testing will also be made available for people who work in the area but don’t necessarily live in the area.

Details of the post code areas affected can be found on the Council’s website, this will include a map outlining the boundaries of the testing zone.


What test will be used?

Everyone in the designated test area will be given a PCR swab test and the test result takes a couple of days to come back.

The other type of test – the rapid Lateral Flow Test – is not being used for this programme.

If someone receives a negative test they do not have to self-isolate, but they must continue to adhere to the current national lockdown rules.

If someone does test positive, they must self-isolate immediately and pass details of their contacts on to NHS Test and Trace.

If someone has already had the vaccine, they should still take a test as this programme of testing is designed to understand how the new variant might have spread in the local community.

If anyone gets symptoms, please book a test in the usual way at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus, via the NHS Covid-19 app or by calling 119 as usual.

The new test sites are only for people in the designated area who don’t have symptoms and have not had a positive PCR Covid test in the last 90 days.

For more information about the latest guidance visit www.manchester.gov.uk/coronavirus

David Regan, Director of Public Health, Manchester City Council, said: “It was always know that Covid-19 would mutate overtime which is why it is important that we investigate how new strains develop and spread. This is what has happened in Moss Side already, and what will now be rolled out in parts of Moston and Harpurhey.

“There is no evidence that this variant will be resistant to the vaccines or causes a more severe illness, and it is not yet known if the strain can be passed more easily between people. But it is really important that everyone who lives in the boundary area and is over the age of 16 gets a test. The more people who get tested, the faster we will be able to identify and isolate cases within the community and prevent the virus spreading further. This is a collective effort and we will need everyone to play their part.

“The best thing we can all do it to keep following the rules – Hands, Face, Space – get a test if you have symptoms, and keep your vaccination appointment when you are called.”

Councillor Bev Craig, Manchester City Council’s Executive Member for Adult Health and Wellbeing, said: “While this case may cause some residents alarm, I want to stress that it is normal for viruses to mutate over time. It is important to note that now that this strain has been detected the Council and Public Health England are working quickly to isolate it and prevent it spreading any further.

“We are following the public health approach to react to the new variant and we will be working with community groups, local champions, MPs and councillors to ensure as many people as possible know how to get a test so we can understand more about this version of the virus.

“There are no changes to the restrictions in Manchester and if you do have to go out for one of the permitted reasons, please make sure you carry on following the rules on social distancing, and wearing a face covering, as well as washing your hands regularly.”

Dr. Will Welfare, Deputy Director for Health Protection at PHE North West, said: “PHE is working closely with and supporting Manchester City Council, as we monitor the situation in the Moston area closely and ensure all necessary measures are being taken to reduce the spread of the virus.

“The most important thing is that people continue to follow the guidance that is in place – limit the number of people you come into contact with, wash your hands regularly and thoroughly, keep your distance and cover your face. If you test positive you must isolate to stop the spread of the virus.”

Notes to Editors

Link to Google Map of testing area

Embed code for map for online publications
<iframe src=”https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/embed?mid=1ob5timFAMnYRXMW6TaLGWA2xgGLpA2RB” width=”640″ height=”480″></iframe>

Link to the car park testing site in Ebsworth Street
The opening time will be 12.00 – 17.00 on the first day, and 10.00 – 17.00 thereafter.

The site will run 7 days a week.

This site will be available as a drive through, and a walk in.


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