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COVID-19: ‘Surge testing’ in Manchester after mutation of Kent variant detected

Written by on 9 February 2021

Thousands of extra COVID tests are being rolled out in Manchester after a mutation of the Kent variant was found in the city.

Four people from two unconnected households were found with the E484K mutation, Manchester City Council said, and 10,000 extra tests will now be distributed.

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COVID-19: Assessing the UK’s response

The mutation is linked to the coronavirus variant first identified in the South East that spreads more easily.

Extra sites are being set up to test anyone who lives, studies or works in the affected postcode areas, which include Moss Side, Hulme, Fallowfield and Whalley Range.

Teams will also be knocking on doors to encourage residents to get tested.

People should take part even if they do not have symptoms, have had a coronavirus vaccine, or have had a recent quick-turnaround test.

Results will take a few days as the more accurate PCR tests are being used, which need to be sent to a lab.

People do not need to isolate unless they have symptoms or are a close contact of a case.

E484K is not a new variant in itself, according to the British Medical Journal, but a mutation that occurs within different variants.

There are concerns over its impact on the body’s immune response and possibly vaccine efficiency, but research is ongoing.

Eleven cases of the mutation of the Kent variant were also been found recently in the Bristol area, where similar surge testing has been taking place.

And 40 cases of E484K on the original COVID-19 virus were also identified around Liverpool.

David Regan, public health director at Manchester City Council, said: “We all know that the virus will change over time and it’s important that we investigate new strains to understand how they might spread.

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“This is exactly what we’re doing with the intensive testing in parts of Manchester, with local testing units and people going door-to-door to offer people tests.”

Over three nights Sky News will host a series of special programmes examining the UK’s response to the pandemic.

Watch COVID Crisis: Learning the Lessons at 8pm on 9, 10 and 11 February.

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