What are COVID-19 variants of concern?
A small number of people in Tower Hamlets have types of Covid-19 called 'variants of concern'. These were first found in Brazil and South Africa.
These variants are called 'variants of concern' because we currently do not know:
- if they spread more easily than the most common type of Covid-19;
- if they cause more severe disease; or,
- if vaccines are fully effective against them.
We are doing extra testing in areas of the borough for a time-limited period to try to:
- Find as many cases as possible to stop/slow spread
- Learn more about if the variants of concern are spreading, how and where.
There is currently no evidence that these variants cause more severe illness. Although the risk to the wider community is considered low, as a precaution, Tower Hamlets Council is working in collaboration with Public Health England and NHS Test and Trace to offer extra testing in targeted areas.
Who should get a surge test?
Anyone who lives, works or learns in a surge testing area should be encouraged to get tested. Halley Primary School has been identified as being the 'surge testing area'.
Staff - All staff working in schools in the surge test area should get a test. If they live outside of Tower Hamlets, they should get a test in the borough as these tests will undergo genome sequencing to identify variants.
Students - All pupils aged 11-years or over who live or attend a school in the surge test area.
Others - If someone isn't sure whether or not they are in the area, or they live near the area, they are very welcome to get tested too.
Where should I get a surge test?
We are making tests more easily available:
At a new test unit at Gouldman House, E1 4HQ from 8:30am to 3pm.
At other nearby test sites to the area:
- Idea Store Watney Market, 260 Commercial Street, E1 2FB
- Ecology Pavilion, Grove Rd, Bow, London E3 5TW
Appointments at these test sites can be booked online.
Tests can also be booked through the NHS Covid-19 app or by calling 119.
Home testing tests will be available for collection and return at the sites below from 12pm to 6pm from Sunday 2 May to Tuesday 4 May:
- Bethnal Green Gardens, off Cambridge Heath Road, immediately in front of Bethnal Green Library, E2 0HL.
- Anchor Retail Park, 123 Mile End Rd, Stepney Green, London E1 4UJ, opposite the turning for Stepney Green.
- Corner of Redmans Road and Stepney Green, north of Stepney Green Park, E1 3NG.
- Tramshed Community Hub on Digby Street, E2 0LS (behind Albert Jacob House)
Where can I get more information?
Go to www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/surget
Anyone aged 11-years-old and above should get tested, with or without COVID-19 symptoms, to help us understand and control the spread of new variants. You should book a test at nhs.uk/coronavirus if you have COVID-19 symptoms, or find your nearest walk in test centre locally if you have no COVID-19 symptoms.
If you have any questions, call the council's helpline on 020 7364 3030 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm).
You should call this number too, if you need additional support (food, money, medicine) in the event that you test positive for COVID-19 and need to self-isolate (stay at home).
Help us to stay safe, and stay open
Symptoms, testing and self isolation
To protect yourself and others please stay at home and get a test. Please inform the school so we offer support and advice and help with any contact tracing.