MASS testing in a Southampton neighbourhood is to begin today as the South African variant of Covid-19 has been found in the city.

Residents in the SO15 5 postcode area will receive testing kits from today.

A mobile testing unit at the Atherley Bowling Club in Hill Lane will also open at 9.30am.

It comes as a case of the South African variant of Covid-19 has been identified in the area.


Tests will be delivered to residents and will then be collected by the city council.

Dr Debbie Chase,inset, the director of public health in Southampton, said there are no plans to expand testing at this time.

But she said “a very small number of properties outside SO15 5 will be receiving home test kits”.

However, no further details have been released.

Dr Chase said: “We will be concentrating our testing efforts in and around a specific area where the new variant has been detected – which is SO15 5 only at this time.

"A very small number of properties outside SO15 5 will be receiving home test kits. There is no reason for anyone who lives outside SO15 5 to attend a mobile testing unit.

"Everyone should continue to follow the national guidance and book a test if they develop symptoms immediately.”

Anyone who lives in the SO15 5 postcode area but does not receive a home testing kit has been urged to visit the mobile testing unit at Atherley Bowling Club.

The unit will open from 9.30am to 3.30pm from today until Saturday.

Residents will receive their results via the NHS Test and Trace.

Those who test positive will need to self-isolate for ten days.

Dr Chase said it will take about ten days to identify whether the strain is the South African variant.

She said: “Public Health England will be in touch with you if you have contracted this variant and there is a requirement for enhanced contact tracing.There is no need to do anything different if testing positive to the South African variant.”

She said there is some evidence that this variant can spread more easily than the original one. But she stressed there is no evidence that the South African variant causes more severe illness or that the regulated vaccines will not protect against it.

She also said there is no need for a more stringent lockdown.

“The same national restrictions continue to apply in this area, including only leaving home for essential reasons,” she added.