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

What surge testing is

Surge testing is increased testing (including door-to-door testing) 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:

East of England

  • Hertfordshire County Council (specific areas in and near to the EN10 postcode area)

London

  • London Borough of Ealing (specific areas in and near to the W7 postcode area)
  • London Borough of Haringey (specific areas in and near to the N17 postcode area)
  • London Borough of Merton (Pollards Hill)
  • London Borough of Lambeth (specific areas in the SE21 and SW16 postcodes)

North West

  • Metropolitan Borough of Sefton (specific areas in and near to the PR9 postcode)
  • Manchester City Council (specific areas in the following postcodes: M14, M15 and M16)

South East

  • Surrey County Council (specific areas in and near to the TW20 postcode)

South West

  • Bristol City Council (specific areas in the following postcodes: BS1, BS2, BS3, BS4, BS5, BS6, BS8, BS9, BS14 and BS16)
  • South Gloucestershire Council (specific areas in the following postcodes: BS16 and BS37)

West Midlands

  • Birmingham City Council (specific areas in and near to the B31 postcode)
  • Walsall Council (specific areas in and near to the WS2 postcode)
  • Worcestershire County Council (specific areas in and near to the WR3 postcode)

The list will be updated regularly.

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

Surge testing in specific areas within Kent (ME15) and Surrey (GU21) is now complete. Further data on surge testing will be provided in due course.

Who should get a test

You should get a PCR 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, your PCR 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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