Guidance: 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 number of cases of COVID-19 variants and mutations of concern in England.

The government is using surge testing and genomic sequencing to:

Read more about surge testing 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:

West Midlands

  • Birmingham City Council (Ladywood, Soho and Jewellery Quarter, Alum Rock, Glebe Farm and Tile Cross, and Bordesley and Highgate wards)
  • Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council (B66 3, B66 4 and B67 6)

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.

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 by a PCR test)

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 with a PCR test 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 restrictions

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

You should continue to work from home were you can. You should also practise hands, face, space, fresh air.

If you live in an area deploying surge testing you should get tested.

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