A government scientific advisor has warned that London could face a localised lockdowns if surge testing does not stop the spread of the mutant South African variant.
Surge testing has been ramped up in four areas of London and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan is urging Londoners, “If you’re asked to take a PCR test, it’s crucial that you do so to help track and limit any cases.”
Professor John Edmunds, epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, warned its unclear if mass testing of Londoners will work.
Professor Edmunds told ITV’s Peston Show, “What we are looking at in south London is an example of what we’ll see now in the coming months, as we try our best to keep that variant out or at as low a level as we possibly can, because if these mass testing events don’t work that well, and we don’t know yet.
“I mean we’ll have to evaluate this one very carefully, then it’s possible that we’ll have to impose some sort of local restrictions back in place and nobody wants to do it.
“So that’s why it’s really important that we test this testing system, you know mass testing, as robustly as we can, and hopefully that is going to be sufficient to be able to keep cases low.”
Professor Christina Pagel, director of UCL’s Clinical Operational Research Unit and a member of the Independent Sage group, said that restrictions will most likely have to be city-wide.
She added that it is “not feasible” to introduce localised lockdowns in the capital and it makes “sense to keep restrictions” for a longer period.
Professor Pagel told The Guardian, “The South African variant seems concentrated in London right now and given that, if the government are as worried about this variant as they say they are, it would make sense to keep restrictions in London going longer.”
Scientists have serious concerns that the South African variant could be more resistant to vaccines, however the Covid jabs still offer protection against severe illness.