Enhanced community testing will begin in parts of Hulme, Moss Side, Whalley Range and Fallowfield after a small number of cases of a mutated form of COVID-19 were detected in the city.
Four cases in two unconnected households of the E484K mutation - linked to the known Kent strain - have been detected and further investigations are underway to understand if this form of the virus has spread further.
The council is working with Public Health England and NHS Test and Trace to put in place additional testing in the local area to investigate further and to take action to limit the number of people exposed.
From tomorrow (Tues 9 Feb), testing will begin and more than 10,000 tests will be supplied to the community.
Additional testing sites will be set up in the area to enable everyone over the age of 16 who live, works, or studies in in the designated area to get a test as quickly as possible.
In the coming days, volunteers will also begin knocking on people’s doors to offer alternative testing for anyone who can’t get out to a testing site, and testing will also be made available for people who work in the area but don’t necessarily live in the area.
If you do live in the boundary area please attend one of the testing sites (detail below).
These sites are for people who do not have symptoms but live within the testing boundary area.
The additional mobile testing sites will be located at:
Our Lady’s R C Church
Our Ladys Presbytery
Open: 10am- 5pm Monday to Saturday (closed on Sunday)
The Guru Nanak Dev Ji Gurdwara
15 Monton Street
Open: 10am- 5pm Monday to Sunday
Moss Side Leisure Centre
Moss Lane East
Manchester M15 5NN
Open: 7.30am- 6pm Monday to Friday, 10am - 2pm Saturday and Sunday (but closed Sunday 14 February)
These sites will operate as walk-up centres with no need to book a test in advance. An additional testing site will also be made available within the next few days.
What test will be used?
Everyone in the designated test area will be given a PCR swab test and the test result takes a couple of days to come back.
The other type of test – the rapid Lateral Flow Test – is not being used for this programme.
If someone receives a negative test you do not have to self-isolate, but you must continue to adhere to the current national lockdown rules.
If someone does test positive, they must self-isolate immediately and pass details of their contacts on to NHS Test and Trace.
If someone has already had the vaccine, they should still take a test as this programme of testing is designed to understand how the new variant might have spread in the local community.
If anyone has had a positive PCR swab test in the last 90 days, they do not need to take another test.
If anyone gets symptoms, please book a test at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus, via the NHS COVID-19 app or by calling 119 as usual.
The new test sites are just for people in the designated area who don’t have symptoms.
For more information about the latest guidance visit www.manchester.gov.uk/coronavirus
David Regan, Director of Public Health, 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. 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.
“There is no evidence that this variant will be resistant to the vaccines or causes a more severe illness, and it is not yet known if the strain can be passed more easily between people. But it is really important that everyone who lives in the boundary area and is over the age of 16 plays their part and gets a test.
“The best thing we can all do it to keep following the rules – Hands, Face, Space - get a test if you have symptoms, and keep your vaccination appointment when you are called.”
Cllr Bev Craig, Manchester City Council’s executive member for adult health and well-being, said:
"It's understandable that some residents in the area may be concerned by all this, but we need to remember that it's very normal for viruses to mutate. The important thing is that this mutation has been identified and that we're taking action to stop its spread.
“We are following the public health approach to react to the new variant and we will be working with community groups, local champions, MPs and councillors to ensure as many people as possible know how to get a test so we can understand more about this version of the virus.
"There are no changes to the restrictions in Manchester and if you do have to go out for one of the permitted reasons, please make sure you carry on following the rules on social distancing, and wearing a face covering, as well as washing your hands regularly."
Dr Will Welfare, Deputy Director for Health Protection at PHE North West, said:
“As part of our testing work, Public Health England (PHE) has identified in the Moss Side area of Manchester a small number of COVID-19 cases of the variant first identified in Bristol and South Gloucestershire.
“PHE is working closely with and supporting Manchester City Council, as we monitor the situation closely and ensure all necessary measures are being taken to reduce the spread of the virus.
“The most important thing is that people continue to follow the guidance that is in place – limit the number of people you come into contact with, wash your hands regularly and thoroughly, keep your distance and cover your face. If you test positive you must isolate to stop the spread of the virus.”