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:
Locations using surge testing
Surge testing is currently being carried out in specific and targeted locations within the following local authority areas:
East of England
- Essex County Council (CM13 postcode area)
- Norfolk County Council (specific areas in IP22)
- Manchester City Council (specific areas in the M9 and M40 postcodes)
- Buckinghamshire Council (specific areas in the HP10 postcode)
- Staffordshire County Council (Stafford District)
Yorkshire and the Humber
- Leeds City Council (specific areas in the LS8 and LS9 postcodes)
The list will be 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)
- Hampshire County Council (specific areas in the RG26 postcode)
- Hertfordshire County Council (EN10)
- Kent County Council (ME15)
- 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 SE27 and SW16 postcodes)
- London Borough of Merton (Pollards Hill)
- Manchester City Council (specific areas in the M14, M15 and M16 postcodes)
- Metropolitan Borough of Sefton (Norwood, Dukes and Cambridge wards)
- Middlesbrough Council (specific areas in the TS7 and TS8 postcodes)
- Southampton City Council (specific areas in the SO15 postcode)
- South Gloucestershire Council (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 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.