Thousands of people in Moston and Harpurhey are being invited for immediate tests after a case of a new Covid variant was identified in the area.

It follows the same approach launched in Moss Side last week, after four cases of the same strain, E484K, were detected there. 

The latest move means everyone aged over 16 who lives, works or studies within a certain boundary in Moston or Harpurhey will be offered asymptomatic tests from tomorrow, with a dedicated new testing unit set up in Ebsworth Street car park in Moston. 

That will open from midday on Wednesday before running between 10am and 5pm, seven days a week, from Thursday.

It will be a drive-through or walk-up testing centre, with booking not necessary.

More testing sites are expected to follow in the coming days.

A team of volunteers will also be out knocking on doors to offer the tests, which will be self-administered and collected again afterwards.

The move forms part of the government’s ‘Operation Eagle’ surge testing programme, which is designed to identify, monitor and contain new mutations of the virus.

In Manchester’s case, the strain in question is the E484K mutation, which was originally detected in Bristol last month, before a handful of cases were also found in Moss Side around ten days ago. Government has designated it a ‘variant of concern’.

Therefore results from both the Moss Side and the Moston mass testing drives will be subjected to genetic analysis in order to determine how many of the positive cases in the area are that strain.

As yet it is not clear whether the variant is more transmissible. No data on the findings from the Moss Side testing programme, which is still continuing, has been made available so far.

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