The following is a message from Barnet Council

Enhanced COVID-19 testing in N2 and NW4

If you live or work in N2 or NW4, testing for the South African Variant will begin from Wednesday, 3 March 2021.

We are working with Public Health England (PHE) and the Department of Health and Social Care to carry out a localised testing programme in N2 and NW4.  

PHE recently found a case of the variant of the virus, first identified in South Africa, in these areas of the borough. There doesn’t appear to be any links to travel.

There is no evidence to suggest that this variant is any more severe than others.

What we are doing to stop the spread

To suppress any spread of this variant, from Wednesday 3 March, we will be carrying out extra COVID-19 testing for anyone living or working in the affected area.

Those tests will then be sent for analysis at a laboratory so we can see if there are any more cases of this variant of the virus in the area.

How you can help stop the spread

The best way to stop the spread of the virus is to wash your hands, wear a face covering and keep your distance from others.

Whilst in lockdown, it is important that we also stay at home unless it is absolutely essential to go out.

National lockdown continues until at least 29 March 2021.

Why are we using PCR testing and not lateral flow device testing

Unlike the lateral flow tests External linkused in asymptomatic community testing, the PCR testsExternal link will allow for whole genome sequencing. This will help determine how widespread, if at all,  the South African variant is within the community.

If we find more cases of this variant via testing then we have a  better chance of  suppressing it. Please help to keep your community safe by getting tested so we can find the variant and protect you and your loved ones.

Don’t be scammed

The testing kits are free.

No payment has or will be asked for now or in the future and your test results will never be delivered face to face.

Maps of postcode areas affected and where we will be testing

Area of N2 where door to door test kits will be received

View a full list of the postcodes in the N2 area we will be visiting with test kits (PDF)

Area of NW4 where we recommend residents get a COVID-19 test

View a full list of the postcodes in the NW4 area we are recommending people get a COVID-19 test (PDF)

If you’re in the N2 postcode

We are asking everyone in the affected N2 postcodes to take a test if they don’t have symptoms. 

Door to door home testing kits

Teams will be going door to door offering home testing kits. These are then collected and sent off to determine what variant, if any, the positive cases are.  

You only need to take a test if you’re age 16 and over. You can take the test if you’ve been vaccinated. 

Mobile Testing Units (MTU) will be set up in the local area. We will be running these from Wednesday 3 March. 

If you miss our visit

Anyone who wasn’t in to receive the test kits can get a test at the MTU.

Book your COVID-19 testExternal link

You can also drop back a completed test at an MTU if you were not home when the testing team came back to collect it.  

If you show COVID-19 symptoms

If you are showing symptoms of COVID-19 you should not take the home test kits and should instead book a test at one of our other sitesExternal link.

Help to take the test 

There are two mobile testing units helping with the surge testing in N2, they located in Five Bells Pub Car Park (East End Lane) and East Finchley Station Car Park (High Road)

You can book an appointment for a test or get advice at either test site.

Book your COVID-19 testExternal link

There will also be additional information points around postcodes affected in the N2 area where you will also be able to get guidance and advice.

How long we are testing for

Targeted testing is planned to last for up to 2 weeks and will be kept under close review. 

To ensure our enhanced testing is delivered as safe as possible to our community:

  • our teams will wear Barnet printed high visibility vests
  • wear appropriate PPE
  • maintain a safe distance
  • help you as much as possible in explaining your test and registering it
  • have ID stating they are working on behalf of Barnet.

They will not ask:

  • for your personal details
  • you to pay for anything, or
  • require access to your property.

If you’re in the NW4 postcode

Not showing COVID-19 symptoms

A high visibility vehicle will be parked in Brent Street, NW4, for people who do not have symptoms to collect home testing kits. This is for people who live in the area identified in the map.

Showing COVID-19 symptoms

If you are showing symptoms of COVID-19 you should not collect test kits from the high visibility vehicle and should instead book a test at one of our other sitesExternal link

Why we are knocking door to door in N2 but not NW4 

The case of the South African variant of COVID-19 has been identified in a single household in the N2 area so we are delivering home test kits door to door in affected postcodes in N2.

The same case had been to the NW4 area which requires a different scale of response.

We will be encouraging residents in the NW4 area to get tested. These tests will also be sequenced.

If you live in a nearby postcode

We are focusing testing on areas where we know we have confirmed a case of the variant. But anyone in the local area who is concerned can get a test at one of the local Mobile Testing Units.

Receiving test results within an enhanced testing area

When should I receive my results 

Most people will get their results the next day but it may take up to 3 days.

You will be told if your test is positive or negative but not if you have a variant of concern such as the South African variant.

The laboratory process to determine if you have the South African variant takes longer and you will be notified in the unlikely event you have the South African variant. 

How will I receive my results 

You’ll usually get a text or email with your result when it’s ready. Most people get their result the next day, but it may take up to 3 days.

Please don’t call your GP as they will not have access to these results. These results will only tell you if you have COVID or not.

Why haven’t I had my results 

If you haven’t received your results by day 6pm, please call the NHS 119 which is open from 7am to 11pm.

Who can I call to find out my result

Please call NHS 119.

The NHS will be able to provide your test result as long as it was registered, or if you took note of your barcode number.

What happens if I test positive for the South African variant

Those who test positive are told to self-isolate, as they would have to do normally. The results help Public Health England work out how fast a variant is spreading in each area.

Please don’t call your GP as they will not have access to your results.

If you test positive as a result of this enhanced testing you will be communicated with through the usual NHS Test and Trace routes. You will need to self-isolate for 10 days in the same way you would with any COVID positive result. You will not be told if you have a variant of concern.

Businesses, care settings, schools and other settings in and around the affected area will be contacted if impacted.

What should I do if I develop symptoms after a negative test 

If you have symptoms of COVID-19: a high temperature, new and persistent cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste, however mild, you should self-isolate for at least 10 days from when your symptoms started.

You should also get a test straight away through the NHS Test and Trace Service by calling 119 or visiting GOV.UK coronavirus testingExternal link

Once you have received your test result, you should follow the guidance on test results.

I am an essential worker can I go to work whilst awaiting my results

Yes if you have no symptoms of COVID. If you develop symptoms you must self-isolate.

Taking the test if you’ve tested positive recently or having rapid tests

Recently tested positive for COVID-19

The national guidance is not to re-test if you have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days, unless you develop symptoms.

This is because the PCR test is very sensitive and can pick up old infection beyond the infectious period.

However, if you wish to participate in the local testing programme and have a further positive result you will need to follow the advice given by Test and Trace.

If you are having regular lateral flow (rapid) tests for work

You should take part in the local testing for the South African variant. 

If you do not have symptoms and live or work in one of the eligible postcode areas you are strongly advised to take part.

The localised testing programme allows Public Health England to carry out genomic sequencing which helps to monitor and understand the evolution of new COVID-19 variants and respond accordingly.

What we know about the South African variant 

Severity of variant

There is currently no evidence this variant causes more severe illness, or that the approved vaccines would not protect against it. 

How contagious is the variant 

Similar to the evidence collected from the variant first identified in the UK, there is some evidence that this variant can spread more easily than the ‘original’ version of the virus.  

Do the current vaccines work against the variant originating in South Africa 

Public Health England and partners closely monitor the spread of variants in the UK, rapidly investigating variant mutations in the lab to determine their characteristics.

They are continuing efforts to understand the effect of the variants on vaccine efficacy and there is currently no evidence to suggest that vaccines will be ineffective.

If required, future vaccines could be redesigned and tweaked to be a better match to these variants, as is the case for seasonal flu vaccines. 

Self-isolation support payment and wider support services

If you do test positive and have to self-isolate, Barnet is here to help. You may be able to claim up £500 if you are unable to go to work because you are self-isolating.

Find out if you are eligible for a  self-isolation payment

For further information about services to support you during isolation around finances, wellbeing, or food-banks, please check our self-isolation support information