Anyone on the Island who has travelled from or through South Africa in the past two weeks is being encouraged to call the COVID-111 service and arrange to be tested for COVID-19.
A new variant of COVID-19 was detected in South Africa at the beginning of October and has spread rapidly through the country. On 22 December, two cases of the South African variant were detected in the United Kingdom.
Director of Public Health, Dr Henrietta Ewart, said:
“The South African variant raises no immediate cause for concern amongst our Island’s community. The offer of tests for this small, specific group, is simply an added precaution so that we can be as certain as possible that this variant has not arrived on the Island.
“The measures already announced by the Government on Thursday to strengthen the Island’s border controls, as well as the testing and self-isolation regimes for people travelling here, will help to further mitigate the risk of the virus coming to the Island, including the South African variant.”
Dr Ewart added:
“It is common and natural for viruses to mutate, it is not unusual or something that should cause alarm. More than 4,000 variants of the COVID-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2) have been identified in the UK. The recent concern about two particular variants – one in the United Kingdom and another from South Africa – is because they appear to be more easily transmitted from one person to another, meaning they can spread even quicker. It makes containing them all the more important.
“Examining the COVID-19 virus and how it adapts and mutates increases our understanding and so this sort of surveillance is an incredibly important element in our battle against this disease. Because of this, I would always strongly encourage anyone who is offered a test to have one.”
The COVID-111 service is open every day from 8am to 8pm. As the testing in this instance is retrospective, there will be no charge.