MP Demands More Testing After SA Variant Found Locally

Rosena Allin-Khan makes call after new strain appears in neighbouring postcode

HMP wants enhanced testing to stop spread of new variant

Tooting MP Rosena Allin-Khan has expressed her concern about the appearance of the South African coronavirus variant in nearby postcode CR4 and wants to see testing for neighbouring postcodes.

This Tuesday (2 February) she wrote to the Health Secretary Matt Hancock as well as Wandsworth Council’s Chief Executive Paul Martin and Director for Public Health Shannon Katiyo, asking if there were any plans to launch testing in neighbouring postcodes.

In a letter seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service she said she had been contacted by a number of residents on the issue.

She said: “The new South African variant is in our neighbouring postcode (CR4), which is only separated from Tooting (SW16 and SW17) by a railway line. Both postcodes use the same shops, the same hospital, the same parks, and the same train station (Tooting Station), which is located on the boundary. If the variant is there, it could easily be here in Tooting too. This will be the same across all affected areas.”

She added: “We have seen repeatedly that the virus does not abide by borders, be they ward, borough or national boundaries. If the Government fails to act now, we risk the new variant getting out of control and jeopardising the progress made through the vaccines. The consequences would be fatal.”

The Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary Jonathan Ashworth also asked Matt Hancock about the testing of neighbouring postcodes in the House of Commons today.

Mr Hancock said: “We absolutely do that where it is epidemiologically sensible. So for instance if the case is found on the border of a postcode, obviously we go across that border and we also investigate linked premises, for instance if somebody had a child at a school or is going to work in a particular workplace and then working with the Director for Public Health we will ensure that testing is directed there as well.”

Wandsworth Council has been contacted for comment on the matter.

Sian Bayley - Local Democracy Reporter

February 3, 2021