Children as young as 12 invited for surge testing in two new areas

Children as young as 12 have been invited to take part in surge testing in Berkshire amid rising Covid cases.

Reading and Wokingham have seen spikes in infections which experts believe is fuelled by the Delta (formerly Indian) variant. 

They are the latest parts of the country to witness an increase in cases, primarily among young people, as lockdown restrictions ease.

Adults and teenagers in specific areas are being asked to come forward to take PCR tests from Monday in a bid to get on top of the outbreak.

The extra testing and genomic sequencing is being offered in the RG1 3, RG1 5, RG1 6 and RG1 7 postcodes in Reading and in the Bulmershe and Whitegates, Evendons, Norreys, and Wescott areas of Wokingham.

Meradin Peachey, director of public health for Berkshire West, said ‘virtually nobody over 60 or anyone who has been vaccinated’ has tested positive.

She told BBC Breakfast: ‘What’s happened in the last couple of weeks, especially in the last week, we’ve noticed that a lot of cases now coming through we can’t link to any travellers, which means we now have community transmission.’

She added: ‘If the variant spreads and becomes even more, it may mutate again and the big concern is that vaccines won’t work and that’s my big concern.

‘We really want to get people tested and isolated if they’ve got the virus, stop the spread so that we can make sure the vaccination programme works.’

Health officials have already launched additional testing in Bradford, Canterbury and Maidstone after cases of the variant were identified.

On Thursday, Public Health England announced the Delta variant is now believed to be dominant in the UK, with cases rising 79% from the previous week.

The strain, renamed by the World Health Organisation this week, fuelled a devastating wave of infections in India.

At the peak of the country’s second wave, more than 400,000 people were testing positive every single day.

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