Variant testing in Stafford Borough
A number of cases of the COVID-19 variant first discovered in South Africa, not linked to international travel, have been identified in England. This includes one resident living in Stafford borough.
Through contract tracing we have established that the resident did not have contact with anyone in the wider community while infectious. However, the source of the infection remains undetermined.
In order to help map the spread of this new strain, everyone aged 16 or over living or working in Stafford borough is being encouraged to get a Covid-19 test, even if they have no symptoms.
People with no symptoms should get tested at one of our community testing sites.
People with covid-19 symptoms should self-isolate and book a test at the Stafford Beaconside drive-through centre via www.nhs.uk/coronavirus
People living or working in these areas should continue to follow the national guidance under the current lockdown.
There are no further restrictions on people living or working in the Stafford Borough area.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who should be tested for the South African variant?
All residents, over the age of 16, who are living or working in Stafford borough are strongly encouraged to take a COVID-19 test as soon as possible.
I live in the Stafford borough area, what should I do?
If you are in Stafford Borough and you do not have any symptoms of COVID-19, you should get a symptom-free test as soon as possible.
You must also continue to follow the national lockdown guidelines and Hands, Face, Space precautions at all times.
Our community testing sites are open seven days a week. You can book here and walk-ups on the day may also be available.
These are the only testing sites that you should attend, as they test specifically for the South African variant, as well as the original COVID-19 virus.
If you have any COVID-19 symptoms (a high temperature, continuous cough, loss or change to smell or taste) no matter how mild, you must self-isolate and book a standard COVID-19 test through the NHS, via the NHS COVID-19 App, online or by calling 119.
Which type of tests will you be using for this?
People without symptoms will be tested via a lateral flow (LFD) test. If this comes back positive, they will be asked to go for a PCR test to check the genetic material of the virus in the sample. This is how the variant will be identified.
People with coronavirus symptoms must have a PCR test.
Find out more on the types and uses of coronavirus (COVID-19) testing.
I have no symptoms but live in the targeted testing area. Can I book a test through the NHS?
No. If you live or work in a targeted testing area and you have no COVID-19 symptoms, please see the guidance above for information about how to arrange a symptom-free test:
The NHS test booking system is for people with symptoms or those who have been directed by the NHS to book a test as they have been identified as a close contact of a positive case. These tests are sent to a different lab.
I don't live in a targeted testing area, but I work there or am in a support bubble with residents of the area ― should I be tested too?
Yes. Please book a test in your local area.
Members of my support bubble recently lived or worked in the targeted testing area, but don't anymore. What should I do?
If members of your support bubble have previously lived or worked in the targeted areas, all members of both households (aged 16 and over) should get tested, even if they don't live or work there anymore.
I have been vaccinated - do I need to get a test?
Yes, you will still need to get a test.
I am currently shielding - do I need to get a test?
If you are currently shielding and have been for some time, you do not need to get a test.
Are there any changes to existing lockdown restrictions?
No. Whether you live or work in Stafford Borough or not, you must continue to follow existing lockdown restrictions. You are required to remain at home unless for permitted, essential reasons. If you can work from home, please do.
What happens after my test?
If you have no symptoms and test positive, and you are resident in Stafford Borough you will be asked to take a follow-up PCR test. You will need to self-isolate and your close contacts will be traced and also asked to self-isolate for 10 days. Your PCR test will be sent to a special laboratory to look for the South African variant.
How long until my test comes back?
Lateral Flow Test results take around 30 minutes. PCR test results will be returned in 48 hours. Genomic sequencing (analysing the test sample for the South African variant) will be carried out after the initial positive test, and will take a longer.
I have COVID-19 symptoms, what should I do?
If you have COVID-19 symptoms (a high temperature, continuous cough, loss or change to smell or taste), no matter how mild, you must self-isolate and book a standard COVID-19 test through the NHS via the NHS COVID-19 App, online or by calling 119. You should not attempt to take a symptom-free test.
For businesses in the targeted testing areas
If your business is in a targeted testing area and you have staff that cannot work from home, your staff can continue to come to work as normal
For education settings in the targeted testing areas
Please continue to test using your usual lateral flow testing processes (your symptom-free test provided by the Department for Education). We will provide further information shortly.
Any staff that develop COVID-19 symptoms, (a high temperature, continuous cough, loss or change to smell or taste) no matter how mild, must self-isolate and book a standard COVID-19 test through the NHS, via the NHS COVID-19 App, online or by calling 119. They should not attempt to take a symptom-free test.