Thousands of people in Manchester will be tested for coronavirus after a mutation of the more transmissible Kent variant was detected there.
Some 10,000 extra tests will be rolled out in the region from Tuesday, after four people from two unconnected households were found to be infected with the E484K mutation, which is linked to the Kent strain, Manchester City Council said.
This follows similar surges in testing in Worcestershire, Sefton, Merseyside, and areas in Bristol and south Gloucestershire, after variants were found.
Extra testing sites will be set up to enable anyone aged over 16 who lives, works or studies in the affected areas – which includes postcodes in Hulme, Moss Side, Whalley Range and Fallowfield.
In the next few days volunteers will start knocking on people’s doors to offer tests for anyone who cannot get to a site, and it will also be available for people who work in the area but do not live there.
Those who have been vaccinated should also take a test, the council has said.
The rollout will use PCR swabs, which take a few days to return results, and anyone who tests positive will be asked to self-isolate and pass on details of their contacts to NHS Test and Trace.
Manchester City Council said it is working with Public Health England and NHS Test and Trace to investigate the spread further and take action to limit the number of people exposed.
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.
“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.”
Those living or working in postcodes M14 4, M14 7, M15 5, M15 6, M16 7, M16 8 should check the council’s website for more information.