Detailed guide: Surge testing for new coronavirus (COVID-19) variants

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What surge testing is

Surge testing is increased testing (including door-to-door testing in some areas) and enhanced contact tracing in specific locations in England.

It involves testing of people who do not have any symptoms of coronavirus.

Surge testing started on Monday 1 February.

Genomic sequencing means analysing the virus sample to understand how it compares with other cases.

Why the government is using surge testing

Extensive surveillance of coronavirus has identified a small number of cases of COVID-19 variants and mutations which cannot be traced back to international travel.

The government is using surge testing and genomic sequencing to:

Read more about surge testing being deployed in England to monitor and suppress the spread of the COVID-19 variant.

Locations using surge testing

Surge testing is currently being carried out in specific and targeted locations within the following local authority areas:


  • London Borough of Barnet (specific areas within N2 and NW4)

  • London Borough of Brent (specific areas within North Wembley)

  • London Borough of Harrow (specific areas within the HA2 and HA3 postcodes)

  • London Borough of Southwark (specific location within the SE5 postcode)

  • London Borough of Wandsworth (specific areas within the SW11 and SW15 postcodes)

North East

  • Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council (specific areas within TS19)

West Midlands

  • Staffordshire County Council (Stafford District)

The list is updated regularly.

If your local authority is carrying out surge testing, you can visit your local authority website to find out exactly where testing is being targeted.

Locations that have completed surge testing

The following areas have completed initial surge testing operations:

  • Birmingham City Council (specific areas in and near to the B31 postcode)
  • Bristol City Council (specific areas in the following postcodes: BS1, BS2, BS3, BS4, BS5, BS6, BS8, BS9, BS14 and BS16)
  • Buckinghamshire Council (specific areas in the HP10 postcode)
  • Essex County Council (CM13 postcode area)
  • Hampshire County Council (specific areas in the RG26 postcode)
  • Hertfordshire County Council (EN10)
  • Kent County Council (ME15)
  • Leeds City Council (specific areas within the LS8 and LS9 postcodes)
  • London Borough of Croydon (specific areas within the CR0 postcode, and specific areas within South Norwood and Thornton Heath)
  • London Borough of Ealing (specific areas in and near to the W7 postcode)*
  • London Borough of Haringey (N17)
  • London Borough of Lambeth (specific areas in the SW8, SW9, SE27 and SW16 postcodes)
  • London Borough of Merton (Pollards Hill and Wimbledon Park area)
  • London Borough of Redbridge (Loxford and Clementswood wards)
  • Manchester City Council (specific areas in the M9, M14, M15, M16 and M40 postcodes)
  • Metropolitan Borough of Sefton (Norwood, Dukes and Cambridge wards)
  • Middlesbrough Council (specific areas in the TS7 and TS8 postcodes)
  • Norfolk County Council (specific areas in IP22)
  • Southampton City Council (specific areas in the SO15 postcode)
  • South Gloucestershire Council (within the following postcodes: BS32 0, BS32 8, BS32 9, BS34 5, BS34 6 and specific areas in the following postcodes: BS16 and BS37)
  • Surrey County Council (GU21, GU22 and TW20)
  • Walsall Council (specific areas in and near to the WS2 postcode and Pleck ward)
  • Worcestershire County Council (specific areas in and near to the WR3 postcode)

*Additional testing and genomic sequencing is being deployed more widely within the London Borough of Ealing, where a small number of additional cases of the COVID-19 variant first identified in South Africa have been found.

Further data on surge testing will be provided in due course.

Who should get a test

You should get a test for coronavirus if you:

You should get a test even if:

  • you have no symptoms of coronavirus

  • youve had a vaccination for coronavirus

  • youve tested positive for coronavirus previously (but not within the last 90 days)

If youve recently spent time within one of the areas targeted for surge testing but do not live there, you should continue to follow the national restrictions and check with your local authority whether you should get a test.

Who should not get a test

If you have tested positive within the last 90 days, you do not need to be tested.

How to get a test

Local authorities in the postcode areas on this page are providing PCR testing to people without symptoms through extra:

  • home testing kits

  • mobile testing sites

Visit your local authority website to find out more.

What happens after your test

If you test positive with a PCR test, your test will be sent to a laboratory for genomic sequencing.

You must isolate with your household and follow the guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus infections. Public Health England will carry out enhanced tracing of close contacts of confirmed cases of the variant.

There is currently no evidence that variants cause more severe illness.

Positive PCR tests from institutions within these specific locations, such as care homes, will also be sent for genomic sequencing.

If you have coronavirus symptoms

If you have coronavirus symptoms, it is important that you get a test for people with symptoms online, via the NHS COVID-19 app or by calling 119.

You must isolate with your household and follow the guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus infections until you get your result.

Continue to follow national lockdown rules

If you live within one of the postcode areas on this page, the same national restrictions still apply.

You should:

You should also practise Hands. Face. Space.

If you live in an area deploying surge testing and need to leave your home because you cannot work from home, or for other essential reasons, you should get tested.

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