South African Variant Identified in Isleworth

Residents in the Woodlands Area and Tesco Osterley shoppers asked to take Covid test

Surge testing taking place in areas with the South African variant of the virus


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Hounslow Council is to deploy surge testing in a part of Isleworth after a single case of the South African variant of the Covid-19 virus was detected.

Residents over the age of 16 who live in and around the Woodlands area will be asked to take a PCR COVID-19 test from this Tuesday 4 May, whether they are showing Covid-19 symptoms or not.

The Director of Public Health for Hounslow has said that people who have shopped in Tesco Extra in Osterley, where the person infected is known to have visited, or have used Isleworth train station should also get tested.

Working in partnership with the NHS, this increased testing is being introduced to quickly identify any further cases of the variant and stop any spread.

Two additional test sites across Hounslow Borough have been opened to support residents in getting tested, even if they have no other symptoms. The surge testing programme will go on for ten days until 14 May.

The Council says it is important that residents in these areas, who have been contacted, take a PCR test. PCR tests can identify specific variants through genomic sequencing, whereas lateral flow device tests are only able to determine whether a patient has a positive or negative coronavirus status.

Doorknockers carrying appropriate ID will be visiting approximately 2000 households from Tuesday with home testing kits for residents living in these postcodes. For those who are not home at the time of visit, information on how residents can access PCR testing from Mobile Testing Units will be provided. The testing units will be at Isleworth train station and Tesco in Osterley from 4 May.

Enhanced contact tracing will be used for individuals testing positive with a variant of concern. This means contact tracers will look back over an extended period to determine where they may have been so that we can contact anyone who needs to be tested.

The Director of Public Health for Hounslow, Kelly O’Neill, said, “This additional testing is important as we are looking for new variant cases to stop them spreading. If you live in and around the Woodlands area you will receive a letter that asks you to get tested so please test yourself when we deliver your kit.

"Residents living or working in the vicinity of Tesco Osterley and Isleworth train station should get tested at the Mobile Testing Units stationed there. The higher the testing uptake the more assured we can be that the variant is not spreading in our community.

“This is also a reminder that if you live or work in the Borough, please self-isolate if you test positive and continue to follow the guidance to keep yourself and your community safe. Remember: Hands, Face, Space.”

The emergence of variants of the coronavirus is part of the way all viruses evolve. There is currently no evidence to suggest that the vaccine offers less protection against the South Africa variant. There is no link between this case and other cases identified in London.

If further positive cases are found in the Borough the Council will investigate whether this is the South Africa variant of the virus.

If you do need to isolate, support with finances, medical advice, food security, housing and more is available at

Over 110,000 residents in Hounslow have already received at least one dose of the vaccine.

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May 7, 2021

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