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Coronavirus

Authorities to Test 80,000 People in a Handful of Areas of England

February 1, 2021

LONDON — British health authorities plan to test 80,000 people in a handful of areas of England in an attempt to stop a new variant of the coronavirus first identified in South Africa from spreading in the community.

The Department of Health says 11 people in England who had not traveled abroad have tested positive for the strain.

It says “surge testing” in eight districts will aim to reach everyone over 16, whether or not they have symptoms.

Scientists will study the genomic sequence of positive tests, to learn more about the new variant and how it spreads.

So far 105 cases of the variant discovered in South Africa have been identified in the U.K. Scientists say there is no evidence it is more serious than the original strain but may be more contagious, and there are concerns vaccines may be less effective against it.

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