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Matt Hancock has confirmed eight areas will see door to door testing in an effort to crack down on the South Africa coronavirus variant.
The programme will monitor parts of Southport (PR9), Walsall (WS2), Ealing (W7), Tottenham (N17), Mitcham (CR4), Broxbourne (EN10), Maidstone (ME15) and Woking (GU21).
Residents in the affected areas have been told to stay at home and agree to testing, whether they have symptoms or not.
Health officials said 11 people had been identified over the last five or six days who have tested positive for the variant, without links to international travel.
The Health Secretary said: "There’s currently no evidence to suggest this variant is any more severe but we need to come down on it hard."
Experts are seeking to urgently test 80,000 people in England and prevent more local outbreaks.
The South African variant is thought to be as transmissible as the other variant that was first identified in Kent, which led to skyrocketing infection rates over the festive period and beyond.
Hancock also revealed that 9.2 million people have already been vaccinated in the UK.
More than 600,000 people were given the jab across the country yesterday, and ministers have reportedly been briefed that coronavirus infections are “stabilising”.
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However, the Government is still concerned by the potential impact of the variant.
Hancock added: "If you live in one of these postcodes where we’re sending in enhanced testing then it’s imperative that you stay at home and you get a test even if you don’t have symptoms.
"This is so important so we can break the chain of the transmission of this new variant and we’ve got to bring this virus to heel. This is a stark reminder the fight against this virus isn’t over yet."
Public Health England managing director Susan Hopkins said the organisation expected all vaccines would be effective against the variant, especially in reducing hospitalisation.
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