South African coronavirus strain found near Hampshire - with two cases confirmed

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TWO cases of a new coronavirus strain have been confirmed near Hampshire.

The South African variant has been found in Woking in Surrey, which is close to Aldershot and Farnborough.

Surrey Council Council confirmed the discovery today and said that the two people who tested positive had no links to travel or previous cases of the strain.

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Surrey Local Resilience Forum (SLRF), along with Public Health England and the Department of Health and Social Care, will carry out ‘surge testing’, in which residents in the Goldsworth Park and St Johns areas of Woking will be visited and requested to take a PCR test regardless of symptoms.

This is what coronavirus looks like. Picture: ShutterstockThis is what coronavirus looks like. Picture: Shutterstock
This is what coronavirus looks like. Picture: Shutterstock
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Ruth Hutchinson, director of public health for Surrey, said: ‘This is a precautionary measure – the more cases of the variant we find, the better chance we have at stopping it from spreading further. By playing your part and taking the test, you’ll be helping to keep your community and your loved ones safe.

‘It’s really important to say that there is currently no evidence that this variant causes more severe illness, so you don’t need to worry.’

Dr Alison Barnett, regional director at Public Health England South East, added: ‘The UK has one of the best genomic systems in the world which has allowed us to detect the variant originating in South Africa here in Surrey.

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‘I urge everyone offered a test to take it up to help us to monitor the virus in our communities and to 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. If you test positive by any method, you must isolate to stop the spread of the virus.’

105 cases of the South African strain have been identified to date across the UK, but this is the first sign of wider community spread.

Some of the vaccines in use and currently going through approval have shown some effectiveness against the variant.

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There is currently no evidence that the variant causes more severe illness, PA has reported.

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