Two cases of the Brazilian variant of Covid-19 have been discovered in South Gloucestershire.
The cases are both from one household in South Gloucestershire with a history of travel to Brazil.
One case that had travelled to Brazil has been isolating at home with their household since returning to the UK.
Public Health England (PHE) and NHS Test and Trace are following up with all passengers from the Swiss Air flight LX318 travelling from Sao Paulo via Zurich and landing in London Heathrow on February 10 and encouraging them to get tested.
PHE has also identified a third currently unlinked case in England, as well as three unlinked cases in Scotland.
Further surge testing will take place in South Gloucestershire following the identification in the area of the Variant of Concern first identified in Manaus, Brazil.
Additional community testing, also known as surge testing, will follow the same process that was in place in parts of South Gloucestershire earlier this month after the mutated Kent variant was discovered.
Residents who live in five postcode sectors, who are aged 16 and over and who are asymptomatic will be invited to come forward for testing, as well as people who travel into those areas for work or to visit someone they are in a support bubble with.
The identified postcode areas fall within Bradley Stoke, Patchway and Little Stoke and are different to those that were part of the previous community surge testing programme.
The postcode sectors are:
• BS32 0
• BS32 8
• BS32 9
• BS34 5
• BS34 6
The testing will be provided at two new community surge testing sites, open 9am-6pm, every day from Monday, March 1, which are primarily designed for vehicles.
Additionally, community-based Collect & Drop locations will open on Monday, from 9am-5pm, allowing residents to walk-in to collect a test kit, take it home and complete the test there, and return it for processing.
The programme is scheduled to run for one week and end on Sunday, March 7.
The drive-in community surge testing sites will be located at:
• Stoke Gifford Parkway Park & Ride, Huntsground Road, Stoke Gifford, BS34 8HP
• The Mall Coach Park, The Mall Cribbs Causeway, Highwood Rd, Patchway, BS34 5DJ
The first two community-based Collect & Drop sites, which will be open from Monday, March 1, will be located at:
• Little Stoke Community Centre, Little Stoke Lane, BS34 6HR
• Patchway Community Centre, Rodway Road, Patchway BS34 5PF
On Tuesday, March 2 two additional Collect & Drop sites will be located at:
• Bradley Stoke Jubilee Centre, Savages Wood Road BS32 8HL (this site will not be open on Friday, March 5)
• Baileys Court Activity Centre, Baileys Court Road, Bradley Stoke BS32 8B
The one-off testing will use PCR tests, which are analysed in laboratories, rather than lateral flow tests.
Sara Blackmore, director of public health at South Gloucestershire Council, said: “We are keen that all South Gloucestershire residents in the postcode areas identified take part in this testing, which will help us to identify positive cases and prompt self-isolation, which helps to break the chain of transmission.
“We do recognise the challenge for residents of undertaking another additional testing programme and want to thank you in advance for your patience and support as we continue to work together to protect our communities from Covid-19.
“We are working together with local and regional health partners, Public Health England and NHS Test and Trace, to deliver this swift, safe and co-ordinated response, with an enhanced community testing offer available to people in and around areas where this variant has been discovered.
“This is in addition to the ongoing availability of testing if you have symptoms (please book through the national booking portal either online at nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119) and regular rapid asymptomatic testing for essential workers. This additional action will enable closer monitoring and work to reduce further transmission of the virus.”
“Even though we have a national road map to recovery from Covid-19, it is vital that we continue to follow the advice, which remains the same to everyone. Behave as if you are carrying the virus, stay in and only leave home if you must. Do not mix socially outside of your household and continue to observe public health guidance – hands, face, space. If you are invited to receive a vaccine, please do so.
“Further information about our community surge testing offer will be made available in coming days as we move quickly to respond. In the meantime, I urge everyone to continue doing the most you can to limit the spread of the virus, to protect yourself and each other.”
Mike Wade, deputy regional director for Public Health England South West, said: “All viruses mutate over time and since the start of the pandemic over 4,000 mutations have been identified in the UK. Most are not a concern for scientists, but we know that some mutations result in virus variants that we are keen to track more carefully.
“In the South West we’re working with NHS Test and Trace and local authority public health teams on tailored intervention measures for variants. These include more testing, additional genomic sequencing and enhanced contact tracing, enabling us to quickly identify any further cases and help prevent any onward spread.
“It’s key that we adapt and respond to the changing nature of Covid-19 in a way that works for our local communities. Taking this targeted approach is essential as we look to take the first cautious steps out of lockdown.
“Around 1 in 3 people with Covid-19 don’t have any symptoms at all, and testing is quick and free. If you are a resident of the identified areas, please take advantage of the opportunity to take a test and keep South Gloucestershire safe.”